Maybe legislative bodies can do something after all. After months of study, deliberation, and wrangling with the Governor, the Maine Legislature enacted LD 1719, Public Law 409, “An Act To Implement a Regulatory Structure for Adult Use Marijuana,” over the Governor’s veto last week, to be codified at the new Title 28-B of the Maine Revised Statutes. This new law took effect May 2, 2018 as emergency legislation, and repeals the 2016 ballot initiative, previously found in Title 7 of the Maine Statute. While further refinements are likely to follow, including better coordination between the Adult Use statute and the older medical marijuana laws (still on the books), the new approach will provide much needed clarity to the employers and municipal clients I represent.
The new law contains important protections for municipalities and employers, even if it does not share the tax revenue as MMA had hoped. There’s a lot of information in this bill for those who are in the marijuana industry. For municipal purposes, here’s what I think you should know.
This bill repeals the law that was passed by the ballot initiative, and which was located in Title 7, and implements a new adult use marijuana regulatory structure in the new Title 28-B. It makes clear:
- Marijuana social clubs are no longer permitted.
- Municipalities can regulate marijuana stores and cultivation facilities. This is important as it means commercial establishments can’t get a “toe hold” to force a municipality to permit operation prior to enactment of a municipal zoning ordinance. This is perhaps my biggest relief for municipal clients that had not enacted a moratorium. Unless and until the municipal officers take an affirmative vote to allow marijuana establishments permitted by the law, marijuana retail establishments are not permitted.
- Home based extraction using inherently dangerous methods (e.g. the butane extraction method which has caused fires like this) are prohibited.
- Home growers can only grow up to 3 mature plants, as opposed to 6 in the prior law. Municipalities can’t prevent this.
- Stronger employer protections to make it clear that employers are not required to permit or accommodate marijuana possession, cultivation, or use in the workplace; can enact policies prohibiting its use during working times; and can discipline employees who violate written workplace policies. Note the need for written workplace policies, however. If you haven’t adopted such policies, you need to.
More to come…
There’s still much more to come in this ever-evolving and fascinating area of law. Perhaps the next legislative session will have the chance to apply some lessons learned, and we may eventually move toward a combined recreational-medical cannabis regulatory scheme in Maine. But this is a step in the right direction and regardless of what one thinks about adult use of marijuana, it is here and I for one am glad the Maine Legislature has given us some better guide posts.
So when you see your local legislators out and about this spring, say thanks.