For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 8, 2020
Contact: David Heidrich, (207) 287-3282
Director of Engagement and Community Outreach, Office of Marijuana Policy
AUGUSTA – With the very first lawful sales of adult use marijuana poised to begin on Friday, October 9, regulators with the Office of Marijuana Policy—a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services—are taking the opportunity to reinforce important guidance.
Interested consumers are reminded of public health precautions necessitated by the current pandemic and are encouraged to demonstrate patience with marijuana retailers as they implement these safety measures. OMP collaborated with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to make a COVID-19 checklist for adult use licensees. Retail customers can expect to be required to wear face coverings and maintain adequate social distancing while waiting in line or shopping in-store.
A complete list of COVID-19-related guidance and recommendations is available on the OMP website: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/resources/guidance-documents.
In addition, due to the public interest in this weekend’s milestone and to alleviate any confusion for those not well-versed in Maine’s cannabis laws, the office offers the following key considerations.
1. It’s Good to Know. 'Good to Know' is an educational campaign developed by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help Mainers safely, legally and responsibly navigate our state's legal marijuana landscape. Interested consumers may wish to brush up on the laws of Maine related to the possession and use of adult use marijuana, important health considerations, and steps parents can take to prevent youth use and access.
For more information: https://www.goodtoknowmaine.com/.
2. Be a Responsible Consumer. It is important that program licensees and consumers demonstrate restraint and respect for the law.
- You must be 21 years old. Like alcohol and tobacco, you must be 21 years of age or older to possess and use adult use marijuana. As with those substances, never transfer marijuana to a minor.
- With edibles, start low and take it slow. Edibles can be more potent than other kinds of marijuana. The effects of edible marijuana can take up to four hours to peak after consumption.
- Don’t mix substances. Mixing marijuana with alcohol or prescription drugs can be dangerous. Alcohol and marijuana at the same time is likely to result in greater impairment than when using either one alone. Also, be aware of the effect marijuana can have on prescription drugs. Ask your doctor if marijuana could interfere with your prescribed medication.
- Identify a designated driver. Do not operate a vehicle or heavy equipment while under the influence of marijuana.
- Public space is not the place. Marijuana may not be consumed in public. Be respectful of secondhand smoke when using on private property.
- What’s bought here, stays here. Federally, marijuana remains illegal. As a result, marijuana may not cross state or international boundaries.
3. Universal Symbol. In Maine, use of a universal symbol is required by adult use marijuana licensees. For product packaging and labeling, the symbol must appear on the front or most predominantly displayed area of the marketing layer.
To deploy Maine’s universal symbol, OMP chose to partner with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to unveil the first-ever shared universal symbol for marijuana and marijuana products. The symbol—which has already been successfully used in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—features a red triangle above text reading “CONTAINS THC”. Centered within the triangle is a black marijuana leaf superimposed on a field of white. THC is the common acronym for tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
4. Adult Use vs. Medical Use. Maine is home to both an existing medical marijuana program and a nascent adult use industry. The medical program serves patients, while Maine’s new adult use industry will service consumers 21 years of age and older. Adult use marijuana and medical marijuana may not be dispensed from the same facility. Unless they have changed their license type or have a separate retail facility, existing caregiver retail stores and medical marijuana dispensaries are limited to selling marijuana and marijuana products to patients with valid medical marijuana credentials in their possession.
The adult use program requires mandatory testing at a licensed facility before product ends up on retail shelves. In addition, there are stringent labeling requirements and consumers need only a valid, government-issued photographic identification card to complete a purchase.
Since the inauguration of Governor Janet Mills in January 2019 and the corresponding establishment of OMP in February 2019, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services has been working to honor the will of Maine voters by implementing the licensing and regulatory framework required by the Marijuana Legalization Act.
The State of Maine first made adult use applications available on December 5, 2019; the first conditional licenses were issued on March 13, 2020. OMP was on pace for a spring 2020 launch of adult use before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the postponement of these plans. The first active licenses were issued to adult use establishments on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Actively licensed adult use marijuana stores may begin retail sales to the public on or after October 9, 2020.
OMP is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine's existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.