Recently Enacted Laws Provide Financial Assistance to Municipalities in Maine
What You Need to Know
There have been two recent updates to Maine state law that provide financial assistance to municipalities engaged in specific activities related to adult-use marijuana and affordable housing.
The Maine State Legislature recently enacted a law that added a provision to the Adult Use Marijuana Public Health and Safety Fund (the fund). This new provision allows money credited to the fund to be used to reimburse municipalities for qualifying expenses incurred as a result of opting into the Adult Use Cannabis Program. This means that municipalities that permit the operation of some or all adult-use marijuana establishments are eligible for up to $20,000 in reimbursement.
For an expense to qualify for reimbursement, it must meet two requirements:
- The expense must have been incurred within three years of the date that the municipality voted to opt into the Adult-Use Cannabis Program.
- The expense must be associated directly with the municipality’s process of opting into the Adult-Use Cannabis Program.
In the new provision, a “qualifying expense” is defined as: “legal fees and costs associated with the drafting and adoption of a warrant article or the adoption or amendment of an ordinance, including the conduct of a town meeting or election, by a municipality that opted to permit the operation of some or all adult-use cannabis establishments within the municipality.
In order for the Office of Cannabis Policy to make a determination that the expenses qualify for reimbursement, municipalities will need to provide thorough records of the expenses incurred. The Office of Cannabis Policy has recently launched a portal for municipalities to request reimbursement, which will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
The recently enacted affordable housing law— often referred to as L.D. 2003—provides financial assistance to municipalities to support municipal ordinance development, technical assistance, public input, community engagement, and regional coordination between municipalities.
The process to allocate these funds will involve a competitive grant application, which has not yet been released by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (“DECD”). Based on the most recent publication from DECD, the rulemaking process will begin in Fall 2022.
Municipalities should consider taking the following steps to take advantage of these recent updates in Maine state law:
- Create a profile in the Office of Cannabis Policy portal. As noted above, requests will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Prepare a list of your municipality’s qualifying expenses under both programs.
- Continue to watch for the release of the housing opportunity fund application.
We will update municipalities as we learn more about both of these opportunities for financial assistance. If you have any questions about whether or not your municipality’s expenses will qualify for reimbursement or these legal updates generally, reach out to our Municipal & Governmental Services team today.