Skip to content

Maine Delegation Urges DOJ to Shut Down Foreign-Owned, Illegally Operated Marijuana Businesses

Washington, D.C. — Maine’s Congressional Delegation is pushing the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to shut down illegally operated Chinese marijuana growing operations in Maine. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden ask the DOJ to address the illegal growing operations run by foreign governments or entities.

The letter comes in response to media reports indicating that there could be 270 suspected Chinese illegal marijuana growing operations in Maine worth an estimated $4.37 billion.

“Maine state law permits marijuana use in certain circumstances, and the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP) provides oversight,” wrote the Maine Delegation. “OCP is responsible for licensing, compliance, and general oversight of both medical marijuana use and recreational use, and it consults with other state agencies—including the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; the Department of Health and Human Services; the Department of Labor; and the Department of Public Safety—on rulemaking related to their areas of expertise.”

The Maine Delegation continued, “These reports of illegal growing operations within the state are alarming, and we are writing to request additional information about what the DOJ is doing to address this situation. We request answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the DOJ doing to address illegal growing operations, including illegal growing operations that are run by foreign governments or entities?
  2. How are the profits from these illegal operations being returned to the country of origin?
  3. These reports identify Chinese ownership. Is the DOJ aware of this alleged Chinese ownership or any other foreign involvement in these operations?
  4. Please provide any additional information about the memo identified in these reports, including who produced it, when the information contained in the memo was first obtained, and what actions have been taken in response?
  5. What action is the DOJ taking to swiftly shutdown any illegal marijuana growing operations in the state of Maine?”

The Cannabis Legalization Act, passed by voters in 2016, established a regulatory framework governing adult cannabis use in Maine. The legislation specifies regulations for tracking cannabis plants and product, enforcement and compliance, health and safety data, labeling and packaging, and licensing and fees.

The full text of the letter can be read here.