The leaders of four Maine cannabis advocacy groups have come together to form the Cannabis Council of Maine.
The new council, which began informally during the last legislature, includes representatives from the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, the Maine Growers Alliance, the Maine Craft Cannabis Association, and the Maine Cannabis Coalition.
The advisory group hopes that by working together, its members will be able to more effectively advocate for medical marijuana consumers and providers in Maine, known in the industry as caregivers, and help create laws and regulations that work for everyone in the industry .
During the legislature, the group successfully campaigned for the passage of LD 1242, which halted a number of controversial rule changes from the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy. Officials said the rules should bring the medical program into line with state law, but caregivers feared the proposal’s required track-and-trace system, which tracks cannabis products from producer to buyer, and new safety requirements, would be too expensive for the industry would be received.
Susan Meehan, president of the Maine Cannabis Coalition, said Tuesday that working together as the Maine Cannabis Council has enabled them to present a unified front to regulators, making the process easier and their message stronger.
The new legislation requires the office to consult sellers, buyers, doctors and health care professionals with experience in the industry before making any major changes.
Meehan said she was glad she and other industry leaders will have a seat at the table in the future.
“For once, I feel like we’re more on the offensive than the defensive,” she said. “That’s a good feeling.”
The rulemaking process has not yet started, but in the meantime, Meehan said the council still has a lot of work to do to keep it occupied.
Its members are working to propose some bills in September to “correct some of the problems we are still seeing and protect what we have achieved,” she said.
In particular, there are contradictions between the law and the rules for the pediatric certification process, Meehan said, as well as a ban on cooperatives that she would like to see lifted. A bill that was supposed to do just that did not come out of the committee at the last session.
The council’s ultimate goal is to protect the medical marijuana program, Meehan said, but it is not against the program for adult use.
“We want them to coexist and we don’t want to see laws that abolish medicine in favor of adults,” she said.
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