The former managers of Colorado’s recreational marijuana program have landed a $189,000 contract to launch Maine’s adult-use cannabis market.

Freedman & Koski Inc., which challenged a previous award of the contract, got the highest score of the seven agencies that submitted proposals, earning a 91 out of 100, seven points higher than runner-up BOTEC Analysis of Los Angeles.

Freedman & Koski has vowed to complete its work in six weeks. Lawmakers and regulators are trying to hammer out oversight rules for the state’s recreational marijuana industry, which has yet to launch despite a 2016 referendum legalizing adult-use of marijuana.

“We are very happy to get the good news, and we’re looking forward to spending a lot of time in Maine in the near future,” said Andrew Freedman, who was Colorado’s first state marijuana coordinator before leaving to found Freedman & Koski.

Freedman & Koski wasn’t the lowest bidder – BOTEC offered to do the work for $40,000 less.

Concerns about BOTEC’s “unrealistic” claim that it could deliver rules by May 10 and a failure to include key advocacy groups in the rulemaking process appeared to sway the three-person review team in Freedman & Koski’s favor, according to state score sheets.

This is the second time Maine has tried to hire a cannabis consultant. In December, the state announced it was going to hire BOTEC for the job, but Freedman & Koski appealed the state decision, claiming the evaluation team unfairly scored the proposals.

The state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which oversees both medical and recreational marijuana programs, opted to scrap that first award, admitting it would likely lose on appeal, and solicited new proposals.

That decision met with criticism from legalization advocates and those who have been waiting more than two years to jump into the recreational marijuana industry, seeing it as just another delay in Maine’s two-years-and-counting journey to legal adult-use sales.

But DAFS officials note the agency has taken steps to stick to its original timeline of having a set of proposed recreational marijuana rules in front of state lawmakers for final approval this spring before the Legislature takes its summer break.

Freedman & Koski is already working in Maine, helping to develop a new testing lab system. Freedman has also testified before Maine state lawmakers. When he warned of black market diversion, lawmakers decided to cut the maximum home grow size down to only three plants.

Freedman & Koski will partner with Advocates for Human Potential Inc. of Massachusetts, a behavioral health care consulting firm that stages a cannabis research and regulatory summit, and administers a successful opioid recovery program in Massachusetts.

The second solicitation drew five other bidders, aside from Freedman & Koski and BOTEC:

n VS Strategies of Colorado, which led that state’s legalization effort. It scored a 76.

n Nuciforo Law Group of Boston, headed by a former state lawmaker and attorney who co-founded a Berkshires marijuana dispensary. It scored a 69.

n McCabe Law, a Portland-based cannabis law firm that wanted to include local medical dispensary and caregiver voices on an advisory panel. It scored a 28.

n Genus Management Group of Alameda, California, which advises a number of private cannabis businesses in California. It scored a 26.

n Zoned Properties and Focus Group US, whose combined bid was dubbed incomplete.

Bidders have 15 days to appeal the proposed state award. If there is no appeal, the state will have to negotiate a contract with Freedman & Koski before it can start. Freedman declined to comment on the schedule of work until the contract is finalized.

A BOTEC official said Monday the company had not yet decided whether to appeal the state award. But chairman Mark A.R. Kleiman said he felt confident that his staff could’ve gotten the work done by the May deadline proposed in its application.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

[email protected]


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