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CMA 3.6 certainly works with 8.0; while our network is mostly 8.5 now, we still have some holdovers (especially servers) running 8.0 with CMA 3.6. Specifically, we are running CMA 188.8.131.524, which I believe is Patch3.
Your policy export/import info doesn't sound right to me either. When we started upgrading to 8.5, I imported my 8.0 policies without a hitch. It would have been a nightmare to re-enter each of those policies individually (not to mention all the opportunities for error in doing so).
Our ePO system is set up by dept, so I usually start upgrades with our training room systems, then our IT dept, then our Business depts such as HR, Acct, Engineering, etc., then start on the rest of the facility (we are health care, so patient care systems are always the next-to-last to get updates), finally finishing up with servers. I'm pretty cautious and will let the first couple depts getting a new update run a few days before continuing to the next group (and never pushing any upgrades on a Friday). Since we have 2500+ computers the 8.0-8.5 upgrade took me about 3 weeks to complete (not counting servers, the majority of which still aren't done do to needing possible downtime for a reboot).
Be aware that 8.5 brings some new aspects that may cause you some concern; ScriptScan comes to mind as does the different look of the Access Protection Policies.