It’s been almost three years since voters in Maine went to the ballot box and legalized cannabis, but it will take at least another five months until the state opens its first adult-use dispensary.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy is finally ready to confirm rules for the local industry, with plans to open the state’s licensing application process by the end of this year, and hopefully start legal weed sales by March 2020.
In November 2016, Maine joined California, Nevada, and Massachusetts in an election day route for cannabis legalization. But while all three of those other states have already launched adult-use industries, Maine has run into delays at every turn.
Spurred by anti-legalization Governor Paul LePage, Maine has experienced legislative dilemmas about minor market details, as well as internal hiring conflicts in the Office of Marijuana Policy. All together, the delays have quickly pushed Maine to the fringe of America’s legalization discussion.
But with licensing around the corner, regulators are now confident that cannabis will be flying off dispensary shelves by next spring. But as we have seen in legal weed states across the country, the steps after licensing can often come with their own set of delays, such as complications added by local municipalities, building inspectors, environmental agencies, and, of course, the plant itself.
“We won’t know until we get applications,” David Heidrich, spokesperson for the Office of Marijuana Policy, said about the March goal. “It’s possible we get applications from someone who has all their ducks in a row and has a municipality lined up that’s poised to give them local authorization.”
If things don’t unfold that smoothly, though, Maine cannabis users could have to wait another month, or two, or three, until they can finally step into a dispensary to buy their bud.
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter