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Launch of adult-use marijuana in Maine delayed due to coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 pandemic delays spring launch of recreational marijuana sales in Maine. A new launch window won't be identified until proper guidance from health experts.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) is postponing the spring debut of adult-use marijuana retail sales in Maine. The OMP says the decision made due to the ongoing coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to stakeholders, OMP Director Erik Gundersen writes, “Just one month ago, as we announced the issuance of Maine’s first conditional licenses for adult use marijuana establishments, few would have envisioned the effects the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) would have on the daily lives of Mainers. However, it now appears as though a spring launch of Maine’s adult-use industry is simply unrealistic.”

“Several communities preparing for local authorization and to opt-in for adult use—most notably those that serve as hosts to our prospective marijuana testing facilities—have now had to postpone those actions because of COVID-19, and rightfully so,” wrote Director Gundersen. “The other issue in this unfortunate situation are the sheer unknowns. Public health experts have clearly communicated that they cannot answer what social distancing or other guidance may be in effect as we approach late spring and early summer.”

In the letter, Gunderson says the new timeline for the retail sale of adult-use marijuana is unclear. The OMP will work with public health experts to determine a new launch window. 

OMP staff have been working remotely. Its office in Augusta has been closed to the public. Despite these adjustments, the office says it is operating at full capacity.

In a statement, OMP says it is still "accepting adult and medical use applications, issuing medical marijuana registrations and adult-use conditional licenses and developing new rules and regulations required by recent changes in state law."

Furthermore, OMP says it will also "continue to engage with its fellow state agencies, municipalities, industry members, state and local health experts, and the public as it moves forward with launching adult-use marijuana in Maine."

The Mills Administration created OMP within DAFS in February 2019. The Office is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine's existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

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