Maine has named a new director of its medical marijuana program, a position that had been vacant for a year.

Craig S. Patterson, a former management analyst in the state Department of Health and Human Services, has filled the position that was last held by Marietta D’Agostino, who left the position about a year ago and is now director of compliance for a Massachusetts-based biotech firm that focuses on the cannabis industry.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Patterson is now the new director, but has not answered any other questions, like his hire date, salary or relevant job experience. According to state records, Patterson has been a state employee for about two years, most recently as a DHHS management analyst.

Patterson inherits a program that oversees a fast-growing and changing industry. In 2016, Maine medical providers printed 51,324 certificates for patients to use medical marijuana, a 36 percent increase from 2015. The number of individual caregivers increased 44 percent to 3,258 in 2016, and their employees jumped from 163 to 224. Dispensary employees increased from 124 to 196.

The state is about to release a new set of medical marijuana rules that would tighten oversight of caregivers and patients who grow their own plants.

Under the proposal released in the spring, caregivers and patients who grow their own medicine would have to submit to unannounced inspections by a state enforcement agency if they had been the subject of a complaint. Refusal could result in license suspension, civil fines or arrest. These rules could be changed in the final version of regulations expected later this month.

This is all being done while Maine is also preparing to launch its new adult-use marijuana market.

A state legislative committee has spent the last nine months overhauling a voter-initiated law that legalized recreational marijuana and establishing a regulatory framework that would be in charge of overseeing cultivation, manufacturing and retail sales.

Some of these decisions could impact the medical marijuana program, although lawmakers say they have tried to avoid interfering with what they consider to be a separate issue, at least for now.

For example, the committee decided against giving medical marijuana caregivers and dispensary operators a licensing preference when it comes to recreational marijuana businesses.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at

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