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Lawmakers to hold public hearing on changes to Maine's marijuana laws

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A bill to amend Maine's cannabis law will get a public hearing today in Augusta. Supporters say the bill would address the stigma that some cannabis operators feel exists in current state law.

Alex McMahan is a registrant in the medical program and an adult-use licensee who worked on the proposed amendment. He says annual fingerprinting and FBI background checks are among the existing requirements for operators that would be removed in the amended law.

"Maine has the opportunity to show there is another way to regulate cannabis that doesn't treat cannabis operators like criminals. We don't want special treatment. We want to be treated like any other industry," he says.

Bill sponsor Sen. Craig Hickman says the bill "reframes" the policy priorities of the Office of Cannabis Policy, and will allow licensees to more efficiently run their businesses, increase revenues and lower prices for consumers who might be drawn to illicit markets.

John Brady, co-founder of Brilliant Buds adult-use cannabis stores in Bethel and Auburn, says he's troubled by some of the provisions in the amendment that could relax adult-use access for minors, defined as under age 21.

"We're taking off the guardrails that we worked so hard over the years to establish to make this a legitimate enterprise. This bill undoes all of that. We've worked hard to establish a good reputation for Maine cannabis. We want to keep that," he says.

Brady says lowering the state's excise tax on cannabis is a better way to help operators struggling financially.

A spokesperson for the Office of Cannabis Policy says the office will testify against the amendment.

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