Maine legislators will be considering several bills this season that would allow established medical marijuana providers a shot at selling recreational weed before official retail cannabis stores open next year. Colorado and Oregon both allowed medical marijuana providers to offer early sales of recreational marijuana while the states were still drawing up the rules and regulations of the fully legal recreational cannabis market.
Recreational weed has been legal in Maine since January 30th, but retail marijuana sales license applications will not be granted until next February, in order to give the state time to draft marijuana sales regulations. Until the pot shops are able to open, the state may see an increase in black market marijuana sales because it is currently legal to consume weed, but not purchase it. According to David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project, an “early sales” marketplace would likely solve this problem.
The other benefit of early sales is that it would allow tax revenue to start rolling in immediately, which could cover the costs of drafting the marijuana licensing regulations. Boyer has recommended that early sales programs should be “done equitably,” by allowing caregivers to apply to become dispensaries.
There are currently two bills, L.D. 1448 and L.D. 1491, which would allow dispensaries to sell pot to adult Mainers. These bills would also allow caregivers to sell excess cannabis products to dispensaries, but not directly to recreational users. A third bill, L.D. 1499, would allow only dispensaries to apply for “provisional licenses” to sell recreational weed early.