After a set of proposed rule changes to Maine’s medical marijuana program was met with weeks of pushback from providers and consumers, the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy has announced it is going back to the drawing board.

The office will scrap the most recent proposal and work with the industry to draft a more palatable set of rules. 

Medical marijuana providers, known in the industry as caregivers, told the office during a lengthy public hearing early last month that the proposed changes too closely mirrored a set of rules they fought off in 2021. Customers and others echoed those concerns.

Among other items, the rules included product-tracking and other security requirements that industry members had already condemned as labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive the last time they were proposed.

They said the proposal was overreaching, overly burdensome and threatened their ability to offer cannabis at a reasonable price, or in some cases, at all. 

In a letter sent to stakeholders this week, director Erik Gundersen said that after “thorough consideration” of the testimony and comments received through the rulemaking process, the policy office chose to discontinue the current rulemaking effort. 


“Rather than forge ahead with a rule that is the subject of concern for program registrants, the office commits to building upon the work of the medical marijuana workgroup,” Gundersen wrote. 

Part of the problem, he said, is a disconnect between what state law requires and what providers believe should be enacted. He said many components of the proposed rules were taken directly from statute. 

The office plans to use the rest of the year to expand on discussions that, according to Gundersen, “will result in changes to the program statute and rule that will lead to a stronger medical marijuana program.”

In January 2021, the policy office released a preliminary draft of rule changes to the medical program that officials said were “meant to align the program with state law.”

Caregivers pushed back for months, arguing that the proposed new requirements would be too expensive for them to survive.

Following the outcry over last year’s proposal, industry members brought the issue to the Legislature, which passed a law overhauling the medical marijuana rulemaking process and halting implementation of the then-proposed rules.


The law required the office to form a working group and to consult caregivers, patients, physicians and medical professionals with experience in the industry before making major changes to the state’s medical marijuana program. Changes would then have to go before the Legislature. 

The 17-member group, which convened in the fall, was headed by the policy office and tasked with developing steps to help streamline the licensing and compliance process “to ensure the medical-use program is fulfilling the hallmarks of a regulated industry.”

It’s the same group that Gundersen said will take up the new rules. 

But working group members have said the process was not what they hoped it would be. Meetings included discussion of broad changes the members would like to see within the program, but they were never allowed to see the proposed rules before they were released. Instead, working group members found out about them at the same time as the public. 

Other medical cannabis industry participants complained that many of the working group’s members also had ties to the adult-use market, which many view as a competing industry.

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