Five companies are vying to become Maine’s state marijuana consultant, including two that helped Colorado and Washington state create their adult-use programs.

The state Department of Administrative and Financial Services announced Friday that the applicants for the Maine consulting job are:

• Barclay Damon, a New York law firm that recently launched a cannabis division and represents several medical cannabis businesses

• BOTEC Analysis, a Los Angeles-based firm that helped Washington state launch its adult-use program in 2013

• Guardian Labs, a New Orleans company made up of an Austin entrepreneur, a biology professor with a hemp specialty and an Illinois cannabis-testing lab

• Freedman & Koski, a Denver firm whose principals are the former Colorado regulators who launched the first adult-use cannabis market in the U.S.


• Zoned Properties Inc., an Arizona-based property developer that specializes in cannabis projects and helps municipalities write zoning regulations.

No Maine company applied for the consulting job. A consulting firm run by Jacques Santucci, the husband of the chief executive officer of Wellness Connection of Maine, which operates four of Maine’s eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, did not apply, although it had asked the state if Santucci’s relationship to Wellness would disqualify his company from being hired.

The state identified the applicants that had submitted completed proposals by Thursday’s deadline, but did not release the contents of their proposals, which will remain confidential until next month, after Maine has scored the applications, selected a consultant and secured a contract. A selection team will assess and score the proposals based on qualifications and experience, proposed services, cost and impact on the Maine economy.

The consultant will be responsible for writing regulations needed to license and regulate adult-use marijuana and enact a new medical marijuana law that will add new dispensaries and map out how caregivers can operate retail stores. The consultant is expected to finish writing the rules by the end of April. Some will require lawmakers’ approval, including development of a seed-to-sale tracking system, licensing standards, and penalties and fines for unauthorized conduct.

The consultant will also establish a marijuana testing program, which, as a technical matter, will not require legislative approval.

BOTEC and Freedman & Koski have expressed interest in the Maine market before, responding to Maine’s 2017 requests for marijuana advice.


Andrew Freedman has testified before the Maine legislative committee that reworked the marijuana legalization law, talking about what Colorado has learned from building the nation’s first adult-use marijuana market, including its missteps. On his advice, for example, Maine lawmakers cut the plant limit from six to three mature plants for home grows. He said Maine reminds him of Colorado, small enough to hold biweekly meetings of heads of relevant state agencies in a single room.

“With smaller jurisdictions, you can help them think holistically about everything, how everything fits together, while in bigger jurisdictions, you get one-off things, a specific contract for a specific state agency to do one specific thing,” Freedman said last year about his firm’s interest in Maine. “We can do that, and we are doing that in other states, but Maine gives you an opportunity for more hands-on work.”

In the proposal it submitted last year, BOTEC took great pains to note that Maine is not the same as Colorado. It noted the shortcomings in the Colorado regulatory scheme, and highlighted the rigorous regulatory approach used in certain areas by Washington state, where the company made its mark. BOTEC principals also have experience in New England, having conducted a 2014 marijuana market study in Vermont while working for Rand Corp.

In July, Maine lawmakers approved a sweeping medical marijuana reform bill that allows doctors to certify a patient for medical use of marijuana if deemed medically beneficial, eliminating the need for a specific qualifying condition. It allows the state to award six new medical dispensary licenses, bringing Maine’s total up to 14, and allows caregivers to expand their operations into retail stores.

The Department of Administrative and Financial Services did not respond to a request for more information, such as a timeline for when it expects to start issuing adult-use licenses. When the adult-use regulatory law was adopted in May, via an override of Gov. Paul LePage’s veto, state lawmakers said they hoped licenses would be issued in the spring of 2019, but that now appears unlikely.


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