Those in Maine who voted for legalization in 2016 might finally be able to purchase their legal marijuana in 2020. Since voters approved Question 1 four years ago, it has been an uphill battle in the legislature to “hash out all the details”, and the start of sales has repeatedly been delayed by both lawmakers and former Governor Paul LePage. Last month, regulators finally began accepting applications for recreational retailers that are expected to be operational by spring 2020. If the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy is efficient enough, that could mean by this March, or even possibly sooner.
While there are bound to be big brands and farms, the state is hoping that the cannabis industry will be home to more small businesses. Local businesses that are already operating as medical marijuana retailers are putting in their bid to sell to recreational consumers as well. If regulators approve existing businesses first, then consumers will have access significantly sooner, as those locations would only need to increase stock to meet local demand.
“What we’re hoping to see is that this be a Maine-based system much like a lot of our small breweries and we’ve seen that be very successful, so we’re hoping the state will be willing to work hand in hand with us,” said Paul McCarrier, who owns 1 Mill in Belfast.
After four long years of people waiting to make a legal cannabis purchase, there’s bound to be a high demand. If businesses aren’t careful, they may find themselves in the same boat as many states before them – with shelves running bare only a week or two after legal sales begin. However, states that have given medical marijuana businesses priority in licensing have also tended to see less shortages.
In comparison, the other states that legalized marijuana in 2016 include California, Nevada and Massachusetts – all of which already have recreational sales up and running. Since then, Michigan (by voters in 2018) and Illinois (by legislature in 2019) both legalized recreational marijuana, and both states also have legal sales underway.
Hopefully, Maine can stick to their expected timeline of spring 2020 without any further delays. Voters were clear in 2016 that they wanted to be able to purchase marijuana legally – and from the looks of it, 2020 will finally be the year that the law is implemented the way it was intended.