Maine’s launch of retail marijuana sales faces possible delay

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A required consulting contract dispute is holding up progress

Retail marijuana sales in Marijuana are currently in a state of flux thanks to an ongoing dispute over a consulting contract. That contract is required to create the state’s regulations and a war is raging after the company whose bid was rejected launched a formal complaint, forcing the state to review the bidding process.

Freedman & Koski is a company based in Colorado that initially lost the contract, but then won it on appeal. One of the company’s principals, Lewis Koski, is also an executive with Franwell, Inc., a company out of Florida that signed, lost and then rebid on a new track-and-trace system for Maine.

This, asserts BOTEC, is a conflict of interest. BOTEC is a California company that ultimately lost the consulting job. It had previously been given the contract before Koski appealed. After that appeal, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) negated the award and called for a new bidding process, after which Freedman & Koski was handed the contract.

The DAFS has said that Koski’s dual employment is not a conflict of interest. Neither of the two entities was involved in choosing the other for the contract and neither has the authority to manipulate the state’s cannabis market. The senior policy adviser for the DAFS, David Heidrich, adds, “Given the modest size of the regulated marijuana market nationwide, it is not unusual or surprising that participants would have overlapping business relationships.”

BOTEC went back to Maine’s officials this past Monday, asking that the state hold off on awarding the contract. It wants time to file a new appeal and prove that Maine had erred in its decision to give the job to Koski. Maine regulators are expected to rule by next Monday on whether or not to accept the stay.

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