Michael F. Vaillancourt

Marijuana: Where Federal and State Law Collide


The Constitution of the United States contains something that is referred to as "The Supremacy Clause".  This clause was put in the Constitution to clear up any ambiguity or conflicts that could arise when laws of the State differed from the laws of the Federal Government.  In short, any activity that involves marijuana currently is in violation of Federal Law, so why have states, including Maine, continued to publish new rules or to allow new businesses to emerge?

The short answer is opportunity.  There are many theories as to why marijuana was made illegal; my personal favorite being that the founding fathers all grew tobacco and didn’t want the competition.  With the passing of the Farm Bill and new proposed banking initiatives working their way through the House and Senate, it is logical to see a path to legality.  While not official, the Federal Government has been content to leave local marijuana businesses alone  if they comply with all local laws (and pay Federal taxes!).

The new draft rules lay out what businesses need to be doing to prepare for application day.  While the rules still need to be submitted for comment and approved by the legislator, the time to begin working on your business plan is now.

Compliance is going to control the industry.  Given the anticipated demand for licenses, one slip by you or a business partner could find  you sitting on the sidelines.  Does your ownership group have the right makeup?  Are there any "disqualifying drug offenses"?  Are all your officers "Residents" as defined by the rules?

There are many issues to consider when starting a marijuana business.  If you, or someone you know, want to learn more about the process, please reach out to Ainsworth, Thelin & Raftice and set up an appointment with Michael Vaillancourt, or Jake Bowie.

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