The Maine Office of Marijuana Policy will hold its first public hearing on draft recreational marijuana rules this month, the next step in its effort to roll out adult-use sales in 2019.

The May 23 hearing on the rules, which will cover topics ranging from how to license growers, manufacturers and retailers, to plant and product tracking, to labeling and packaging requirements, will start at 8 a.m. at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland.

The hearing will continue until all interested members of the public complete their testimony.

The draft regulations, which were developed by the consulting firm of Freedman & Koski of Colorado, will not be implemented until they are approved by the Legislature. Other rules that address new medical marijuana rules and testing labs will be adopted later, without legislative approval.

Voters approved legalization of adult-use cannabis in November 2016. While limited home grow was allowed by January 2017, the state has struggled to launch a commercial market, having to overcome legislative rewrites, gubernatorial vetoes and contractual snafus.

National consultants estimate that Maine’s market, once launched, could hit $265 million a year and employ as many as 5,400 people. Maine expects it will start accepting recreational cannabis business license applications this year as long as draft rules are passed before lawmakers go on summer break.

The public can submit comments in writing by mail or email until June 2. Letters should be mailed to Director Erik Gundersen, Office of Marijuana Policy, 162 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333, or emailed to [email protected] with “rulemaking comment” in the subject line.

The draft rules are available at www.maine.gov/dafs.

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