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Maine Marijuana Sales Can Finally Begin, Officials Announce Four Years After Voters Legalized It

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Marijuana businesses in Maine can begin recreational sales on October 9, the state’s cannabis regulatory body announced on Friday.

This comes nearly four years after voters approved a legalization ballot measure—a significant delay in implementation compared to California, Massachusetts and Nevada, which also legalized for adult-use on the same day in 2016.

The first round of cannabis business licenses will be issued on September 8, giving licensees about a month to begin harvesting, processing and ensuring quality control for their marijuana products. It’s not clear how many licenses will be initially approved.

The state’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) said it had planned to launch retail sales in April, but that timeline was pushed back due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The public’s health and safety are at the forefront of every decision we make,” OMP Director Erik Gundersen said in a press release. “While we were poised to launch this new industry earlier this year, we were unwilling to sacrifice the high standards we have set for this program by launching during an emerging public health pandemic and in the absence of a testing facility.”

“With the support of the public health community, municipalities across the state, and the industry we regulate, we have used the last few months to ensure this new industry is introduced to Maine consumers in a manner that is as responsible as possible,” he said.

Marijuana businesses will have to impose social distancing and other public safety requirements in order to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s announcement is a major milestone in honoring the will of Maine voters and a significant step toward launching a new industry in the state,” Gundersen said. “Many of the business owners we have spoken with during the application process are ready and eager to commence operations.”

The nearly four-year delay in implementation in Maine is partly the product of interference by then-Gov. Paul LePage (R), a vocal opponent to cannabis reform, and other legislators.

Gov. Janet Mills (D), who signed legislation to set the framework for legal marijuana sales last year, has taken a different tone on the issue.

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Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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