PORTLAND (WGME) – The public weighed on Maine’s plan to regulate recreational marijuana during a packed hearing Thursday at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.
“People have been waiting a long time and we’re well aware of that so we worked at a pretty quick pace to make sure we had these rules to the legislature before they adjourned this year,” said Erik Gunderson, director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy.
State marijuana policy officials said Thursday’s hearing was an important step in the implementation of legal recreational marijuana.
The current statute focuses on areas including tracking marijuana plants and product, enforcement, and proper labeling, along with licensing and fees.
Gunderson said it is important the industry can provide products to consumers who want it.
“Making sure that the industry is set up in a way where we can officially and effectively enforce the law,” he said.
Among those who testified Legalize Maine President Paul McCarrier.
“We’re very supported with the fact that they’re looking to incorporate this to make it a Maine-based business,” McCarrier said. He said the marijuana police office has taken a “friendly consumer” approach.
“We’re happy with the regulations compared to them [in] a lot of other states,” he said.
Aaron Scalia, who owns a medical marijuana store in Manchester, also spoke.
“I would like to convert it to a rec store and be able to offer everything we offer at the medical store to everyone in the community,” Scalia said.
Under the current proposal, housing both medical and recreational marijuana sales under one roof would be prohibited.
“I think it’s very important that we can have safe access to medical marijuana for everybody and not just for people who have cards,” Scalia said.
A 10-day public comment period began Friday. The legislature will then refer it to a committee, which will conduct a public hearing.