Just as cannabis legalization has swept through the West Coast, the northeastern region of New England is also riding the green wave. While Massachusetts struggles to implement its own voter-approved recreational marijuana system, the neighboring state of Maine has sought out a renowned pot expert to help craft cannabis regulations. In order to ensure that The Pine Tree State implements recreational cannabis the right way, Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee is taking advice from Andrew Freedman, also known as Colorado’s “marijuana czar.”
Freedman, who is the first Director of Marijuana Coordination in Colorado, spent over an hour meeting and sharing data on recreational cannabis use with the committee. A number of his findings helped quell the fears that some lawmakers harbor about legalization, particularly regarding increased cannabis use among the youth. According to his stats, cannabis consumption among both adults and teens has not risen alongside legalization.
However, some statistics could be viewed in a negative light. For instance, Colorado has seen an increase in hospital emergency room visits, primarily due to tourists underestimating the potency of edibles. Freedman also expressed that his state was overly lax on personal cultivation laws, ultimately allowing individuals to grow too much marijuana, eventually paving the way for cannabis to be illegally sold across state lines.
While the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee certainly sees value in Freedman’s information, the cannabis expert warns that 10 years of data is needed to properly evaluate trends. Unlike Colorado (the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in the United States) Maine has the advantage of being able to study the successes and failures of other states’ cannabis regulations.
In his view, the best way to craft regulations is by regularly taking the community’s thoughts/reactions and data into consideration, essentially viewing the creation of a recreational market as a trial-and-error process. Maine lawmakers plan to draft their cannabis laws by the end of this month, and will hold a public hearing regarding them by September of 2017.