Four years ago, Maine voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana. Yet, there are still no marijuana retailers in the state. The industry’s roll-out since since 2016 has been impeded by a number of legislative and regulatory twists and turns, including a gubernatorial veto. But few, if any, in this emerging sector anticipated the latest obstacle.
In June of last year, the state adopted rules for adult use cannabis businesses, and in March issued its first conditional licenses. The hope was to launch retail sales this spring. But the pandemic happened.
Erik Gundersen, director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy, says the state is waiting for approval from local city and town governments.
“With the local authorization piece the second stop in the licensing process, towns and cities across the state are really closed,” Gundersen says. “Even though 87 conditional licenses are out there, the local authorization forms aren’t coming back at a volume where we can actually start the program.”
In order for retailers to set up shop, the host community has to opt in and enact local ordinances. Gundersen says more than 40 have done so, but before the marketplace opens for business, he wants to be sure that there are enough stores to meet the demand. [Read more at Maine Public Radio]