Maine Regulators Voluntarily Drop Marijuana Business Residency Requirement

The State of Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy announced Monday that it will no longer enforce residency requirements for the state’s adult-use cannabis business license. The decision resulted “after counsel in the Office of the Attorney General reviewed the law and facts presented in a pending lawsuit filed against the department.”

The lawsuit, brought against Maine’s Department of Administrative and Financial Services by NPG LLC and Wellness and Pain Management Connection, LLC, was dismissed on Monday. The stipulation stated that the residency requirement “is subject to significant constitutional challenges and is not likely to withstand such challenges. The Attorney General thus does not intend to defend the Residency Requirement, given the constitutional issues raised in this law suit.”

The case, filed in March, alleged that “Though Maine‚Äôs adult use marijuana industry is expected to create significant economic opportunities, a state statute reserves these opportunities in large part for four-year Maine residents, to the exclusion of non-residents.” The plaintiffs specifically alleged that the statute “violates the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by explicitly and purposefully favoring Maine residents over non-residents.” They sought an injunction of enforcement.

Maine voters first approved the commercial sale of marijuana in 2016. According to the Portland Times, “Local licensing preference has been at the heart of the Maine Marijuana Legalization Act since voters first approved commercial sales in 2016. It began as a carve-out for existing medical marijuana providers, who must be Mainers, but turned into a four-year residency requirement during legislative overhauls.”

Wellness and Pain Management Connection’s attorney stated that it may file suit to overturn a similar residency requirement for Maine’s medical marijuana program.