Cannabis Law: Maine’s Medical Marijuana Residency Requirement Removed

On Aug. 17, 2022, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s finding that Maine’s medical marijuana residency requirement violates the dormant commerce clause. Before this decision, Maine restricted licenses for medical marijuana establishments to residents and resident-owned entities. However, the Court found that this residency requirement discriminated against nonresidents and was an undue burden on interstate commerce.

Maine argued the residency requirement was valid because the “market” for medical marijuana is illegal under federal law. The First Circuit dismissed this argument, finding federal law supported the existence of a market for medical marijuana and provided federal protections for a state-sponsored medical marijuana industry. The Court went on to say that allowing states to disproportionately exclude noncitizens has “destructive consequences” to the federal system of government.

This case is incredibly important for two reasons. First, this is a federal court establishing precedent that a residency requirement to participate in a state’s medical marijuana program violates the Dormant Commerce Clause. Second, this case could pave the way for decriminalization or rescheduling of marijuana from an illegal controlled substance.

This decision is likely to have ramifications far beyond Maine’s borders. Mississippi’s Medical Cannabis Act currently requires at least 35% of a medical cannabis establishment to be owned by a Mississippi resident. However, the Act allows non-Mississippi residents to apply for cultivation, transportation, dispensary, processing or disposal licenses as early as December of 2022. With the First Circuit’s decision, however, we may see nonresidents allowed to own establishments sooner rather than later.

If you have any questions regarding Mississippi’s Medical Cannabis program, please contact our HAT Law Medical Cannabis legal team.

Julie Mitchell, J.D., L.L.M.,, 601-842-1074

Philip Chapman, J.D.,, 601-608-3117

Cindy Denley, J.D.,, 601-608-6224