After much delay, Maine’s recreational marijuana regulations are set to be implemented next year, allowing for the operation of dispensaries.
Maine residents who supported the 2016 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana will likely be excited to hear that the delay in their state’s new marijuana market is on track to end shortly.
Regulators at the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy announced last week that they expect adult use marijuana sales to begin in the spring of 2020.
According to a spokesperson for the agency, regulators anticipate they will begin accepting applications from potential marijuana businesses by the end of the year, putting the market on track to launch by March 15.
Maine initially approved adult-use sales by popular referendum in 2016, but former reactionary Governor Paul LePage (R) fought implementation by vetoing regulations twice before he was finally overridden by the legislature.
In stark contrast, incumbent Governor Janet Mills (D) is in favor of adult-use marijuana retail implementation.
In order for the Office of Marijuana Policy to begin formulating regulations, state lawmakers had to pass legislation to adjust the law that was initially passed.
“While Maine’s previous Governor worked hard to obstruct the will of the voters, it is refreshing to see the incoming administration take steps to turn things around so quickly,” said Diane Russell, a former Maine lawmaker and member of the NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) board.
After having pushed for legalization while in the statehouse, I’m excited to see that politicians and regulators are now finally on the same page with respect to fully implementing adult-use cannabis regulations and sales.
One key part of the process that is key to the launch of the market is that those seeking licenses need approval from the municipality in which they want to establish themselves. However, only 15 of the state’s 455 municipalities thus far have indicated they support having a dispensary within their boundaries.
California has a similar issue where the small, rural towns that geographically take up the most space are opposed to cannabis reform while the geographically smaller urban and suburban centers where most of the population lives are in favor of it.
Looking Ahead for Maine
Once Maine’s marijuana market launches, licensed dispensaries will be able to sell up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis or five ounces of marijuana concentrate to each adult aged 21 and older in a single day.
In addition, under Maine’s marijuana law, individuals are allowed to grow up to six mature flowering plants, 12 nonflowering immature plants, and as many seedlings as they want. Consumption in public remains illegal.
State officials believe that marijuana retail stores will generate $107 million in revenue in its first year.
Maine was one of four states to pass recreational legalization referendums in 2016. Among them were also Nevada, California, and Massachusetts, making Maine the last out of the group to actually open its market.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Maine in 1999 by a referendum that received 60 percent of the vote. As of August, there are eight medical dispensaries currently operating.