Maine Begs Biden For Help

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Maine’s congressional delegation has raised concerns about the rapid increase of illegal Chinese-run marijuana growing operations in the state, urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to take action. This request follows a report suggesting the existence of approximately 270 illicit marijuana operations in Maine, estimated to be worth over $4 billion. The delegation’s bipartisan letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland seeks clarification on the federal government’s response to this pressing issue.

Maine has legalized adult-use marijuana but maintains strict regulations and taxation policies within its legal cannabis industry. The Office of Cannabis Policy reports that there are 144 licensed legal grow sites in the state, with only 89 currently operational. This stark contrast highlights the scale of unregulated and untaxed marijuana cultivation allegedly tied to Chinese investors.

A report raised the alarm from the Daily Caller, which referenced a leaked confidential memo reportedly disseminated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. This memo outlined the widespread Chinese marijuana growing operations in Maine, expressing concerns over the absence of regulation and taxation. Furthermore, the memo alleged that profits from these illegal operations were being channeled back to China or used for other illicit activities.

As of now, federal officials have not publicly confirmed the authenticity of the leaked memo. In response to questions, a spokesperson from U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated, “It is the policy of CBP to neither confirm nor comment on potentially leaked information.”

Maine’s congressional delegation, consisting of Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, as well as Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, has sought answers from the DOJ regarding their strategy to combat this issue. Questions posed by the delegation revolve around the federal government’s knowledge of these operations and the measures they intend to employ to disrupt them.

Matthew Felling, a spokesperson for Senator Angus King, reported that they are currently in the inquiry phase, awaiting a response from the Justice Department. Likewise, local law enforcement agencies, such as the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, refrained from commenting on the ongoing investigations or the delegation’s letter but emphasized their commitment to dismantling illegal drug activities.

Maine is not alone in grappling with illegal marijuana operations linked to China. Reports have surfaced from other states, including Oklahoma, California, Oregon, and Northern California, indicating increased Chinese involvement in American cannabis cultivation. Some of these operations have ties to organized crime, raising concerns about the extent of the issue nationwide.

While Maine has faced challenges in policing illegal marijuana cultivation since the legalization of the market, this recent development adds a new layer of complexity to the issue. The concerns raised by the congressional delegation underscore the need for federal and state authorities to work together to address and regulate this growing problem effectively.