Young marijuana plants are shown in a March 12 photo at an Aroostook County growing facility. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

AUGUSTA, Maine — An Albion man was indicted on felony marijuana trafficking and cultivation charges in a rare example of Maine regulators cracking down hard on a grower allegedly operating far outside the state’s relatively permissive laws.

A Kennebec County grand jury last month handed down an indictment charging 62-year-old Richard J. Corbett Jr. with trafficking at least 20 pounds of marijuana and growing 500 plants or more. Police also seized nine guns during an October search that Corbett may have to forfeit.

Corbett’s case is notable because he is being prosecuted by Attorney General Aaron Frey’s office after the case was referred to state lawyers by the Office of Marijuana Policy, which oversees the medical and recreational markets. It is only the third felony marijuana case being handled by the office for conduct that came after adult-use sales began in October 2020.

The highest-profile marijuana cases of Maine’s legalization era came out of federal raids on allegedly large-scale operations reaching across state lines, including a Lewiston-Auburn one in 2018 and another in the Farmington area that led to 2021 charges against more than a dozen people, including a former prosecutor and two former police officers.

It was unclear from court records whether Corbett had a lawyer. There was no phone number listed for him. David Heidrich, a spokesperson for the marijuana regulator, did not respond to a Thursday question about whether Corbett held state licenses.

Frey spokesperson Nicole Sacre said the viability of Maine’s adult-use and medical programs “requires accountability for those who knowingly and intentionally” operate outside them. She said the other felony marijuana cases being handled by the office were in Sagadahoc and Penobscot counties.

“The mechanism for accountability is criminal prosecution; our ultimate goal is to encourage compliance with the legal marijuana market,” Sacre said.

The penalties facing Corbett are the strictest around marijuana trafficking and cultivation still on the books in Maine after voters set up the state’s medical market in 2009 and legalized marijuana for adult use in 2016. Each of the two Class B charges carries a maximum 10-year sentence and up to a $20,000 fine. Corbett’s arraignment is set for April 21.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...