Maine cannabis regulators are recruiting members for a new task force to advise the state on its medical marijuana program. The newly formed panel, known as the Marijuana Working Group, will consist of civil society representatives, industry officials, caregivers, and medical marijuana patients who will make recommendations to the Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) in Maine on the state’s medical cannabis program to improve.
On Friday, OMP Director Erik Gundersen announced the formation of the new working group in a press release from the agency.
“We look forward to the opportunity presented by convening a group of well-qualified people to pursue a common goal of both maintaining patient access and supporting the regulated market,” said Gundersen.
Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999, while cannabis was legalized in the state for adult use in 2016. Governor Janet Mills founded the OMP as part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services to regulate both medicinal and recreational cannabis in 2019.
Prohibitionist does not have to apply
The marijuana working group will consist of representatives from the OMP and at least 16 voluntary external members, with all but two seats on the panel being reserved for members of the medical marijuana community. Five seats are reserved for registered nurses and three more are occupied by qualified medical marijuana patients. The medical marijuana industry will also be represented on the working group, including two seats occupied by a registered pharmacy, one by a marijuana testing facility and another by a cannabis product manufacturer.
The membership of the working group is rounded off by two members of the health professions with corresponding specialist areas and two representatives from local government. To qualify for the panel, prospective members must have relevant experience for the seat for which they are applying. Those seeking seats reserved for industry representatives must have an active license or registration with the OMP and be in good standing with the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
Prospective marijuana working group members are also prohibited from being a registered lobbyist with the Maine Commission on Government Ethics and Electoral Practices, with the exception of those who lobby directly and solely on behalf of their employer. In addition, applicants for a seat in the working group must be able to demonstrate that the applicant’s interests are not prohibitive in nature, in accordance with the qualifications listed for the committee. The members selected to participate in the working group will be selected by the OMP following the public call for applications that is now ongoing.
“Our vision as a cannabis regulator has always been to build a trusting partnership with our stakeholders by creating rules and guidelines that give interested consumers access to a regulated industry,” said Gundersen.
Meetings start next month
The meetings of the new medical marijuana working group will be held and chaired by representatives of the OMP at least four times between September 28 and the end of November, and the panel’s recommendations will be passed on to regulators and lawmakers for further action. The group will use the lessons learned to advise regulators with the OMP on best practice in patient education and access, and ways to update or improve Maine’s medical cannabis program.
“The outcomes of the meetings are expected to include steps that can be taken through legislation and regulation or the development of recommendations to streamline the office’s licensing and compliance processes to ensure that the medical program is hallmarks of a regulated industry fulfilled “, wrote the OMP on release.
Applications for those who wish to join the marijuana working group and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available online. Applications for membership in the committee will be accepted by the OMP until Friday, September 3, 2021.