One major stepping stone to marijuana sales and use in a state, once the laws are in place, is the creation of regulations that streamline the process of monitoring marijuana, particularly the packaging and sales of products.
In Maine, a contract to create this set of rules currently came to an unexpected end, as the state announced it had withdrawn from a contract with Los Angeles-based BOTEC. The contract was awarded after a bidding process, and hopes were high that the regulations would be complete by April 2019. However, another company that submitted a bid for the job had appealed the award, leading to a plan to restart the bidding process.
BOTEC does not seem to hold a grudge, as company officials have said they will put strong consideration into whether to submit a bid, with a lean towards doing so. Meanwhile, the bidding process could begin as soon as Monday, with the contract retraction occurring Jan. 25.
Gov. Janet Mills is new to the office, and the bidding process took place under the previous administration. Concerns over whether the award process would hold up to the appeal led to the decision to withdraw the contract and revisit the bidding process — as this seemed the best way to move forward in a timely manner.
Recreational use is legal in Maine, and the current laws allow growing it yourself and even gifting it (under specific parameters). Once sales begin, the tax is set for 10%.
The current legislative session already has a dozen marijuana-related changes proposed, varying from sealing records to outlining where marijuana can be smoked and even a law that would permit a space to house both medical marijuana and adult-use stores.
For Maine residents concerned about the potential setback to sales in 2019, there may be good news even with the contract withdrawal. Legislators are working to craft a request for proposals that would move up the timeline, specifying that the regulations be completed prior to the deadline previously set.
The Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Administration and Finance, Dick Thompson, noted the government officials are aware that residents have been frustrated with prior issues that led to delay, and the legislators in office in this administration are working hard to avoid any similar roadblocks and issues that would slow down progress.
The focus, according to Thompson, is to have the Maine marketplace for adult use of marijuana active during 2019.