Maine marijuana industry affected by ‘tobacco’ guidance on vapes, pre-rolls

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Recent guidance from Maine’s cannabis regulator prevents medical marijuana caregivers without brick-and-mortar retail locations from selling MJ pre-rolls and vape products.

“The new guidance caused an outcry because pre-rolled products and liquid concentrates for vaping are among the most popular – and profitable – cannabis products sold in medical and adult recreational stores,” the Associated Press reported.

The Oct. 7 guidance document was issued by Erik Gundersen on his last day as executive director of Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP), according to the AP.

The document states that Maine’s definition of a “tobacco product” includes marijuana pre-rolls as well as “electronic smoking devices” and their associated liquids.

According to the guidance, “a medical registrant or adult use (cannabis) licensee must obtain a retail tobacco license in order to sell or give away tobacco products including electronic smoking devices, rolling papers, pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes, pipes and/or liquids used in electronic smoking devices, whether or not they contain nicotine.”

Sales without a retail tobacco license are subject to “criminal charges, imprisonment, and fines.”

The retail tobacco licenses are available only to MMJ registrants and adult-use marijuana licensees with a physical storefront, the guidance continued.

The affected cannabis products may not be sold to medical marijuana clients younger than 21.

Those products could previously be sold to registered MMJ patients 18 and older, the AP reported.

The guidance also states that cannabis products that qualify as “tobacco products” must be displayed so that only retail staff can access them.

It also prevents medical and adult-use marijuana retailers from selling pre-rolls and vape products without “a direct, face-to-face exchange in which the customer may be clearly identified.”

“Registrants and licensees are also reminded that the delivery of tobacco products is prohibited by laws governing their retail tobacco sales license,” the guidance noted.

Maine lawmakers approved a bill this year to allow curbside pickup and delivery for licensed adult-use cannabis stores.

Theory Wellness CEO Brandon Pollock told the AP that the guidance “won’t have an impact on adult recreational-use retailers because they’re already licensed for tobacco and there’s already an age limit of 21 for purchases.”

Since resigning from the OCP, Gundersen has launched his own cannabis consulting firm.

Vern Malloch, former OCP deputy director of operations, has been appointed interim director.