Maine marijuana unit would target illegal market

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A proposed new division of the Maine Drug Enforcement agency would focus on shutting down the illicit marijuana market that competes with state-licensed MJ growers, processors and retailers.

The four-person unit would be funded each year with $649,000 in revenue from marijuana taxes and licensing fees, according to the Portland Press Herald. The unit would have two roles: criminal and civil.

On the criminal site, the unit would focus on activity such as illicit marijuana sales to underage buyers.

Maine legalized the sale of marijuana three years ago, but Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck told lawmakers the illicit market “doesn’t just go away overnight.”

The new agency’s civil compliance units would use regulatory tools to encourage licensed MJ businesses to follow state marijuana regulations, such as testing all products. However, some marijuana advocates – including at least one person seeking an adult-use marijuana license – were incensed by the proposal to create a new cannabis-enforcement unit. They argued that, rather than creating the unit, resources would be better spent on helping new companies comply with regulations.

Maine’s adult-use marijuana sales are expected to begin in June.