Back in 2016, voters passed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in Maine. Since then, residents have been waiting for the state government to draft and pass regulations which would operationalize recreational cannabis cultivation, manufacture and sales. Gov. Janet Mills has now signed the regulations and brings the long wait to an end.
These guidelines will take effect in September and the first recreational cannabis sales could begin early next year.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Gov. Mills remarked that the rules show what can happen when the government works with legislators, industry players and members of the public to attain a common goal. She added that this law brings the state ever so close to making the people’s wish of legalizing recreational marijuana a reality.
One of the clauses in the regulatory framework states that any marijuana company which wishes to be licensed in the state must have a resident who has lived in Maine for at least four years as the majority shareholder with an ownership stake that isn’t less than 51 percent. This requirement will remain in force until June 2021.
The law also contains restrictions on who can sell marijuana in the state. Anyone who has been convicted for any offense related to drugs (even if that drug isn’t marijuana) within the past 10 years and those who have ever had their marijuana license revoked anywhere in the U.S. aren’t eligible for a marijuana sales license in Maine.
Local authorities have also been allowed to decide whether recreational marijuana businesses can open within their jurisdictions or not. So far, only a paltry 15 out of the 455 municipalities in the state have expressed interest in licensing recreational cannabis businesses.
This low interest is understandable from two key perspectives. First, the ballot measure which saw the legalization of marijuana was passed by a slim majority of voters. If voter sentiments haven’t changed much since 2016, it is reasonable to expect that a sizeable number of municipalities (and the residents therein) will be opposed to recreational marijuana.
Secondly, many municipalities have been waiting on the state government to pass the regulatory framework before they can decide whether to opt in or out of the recreational industry. Now that the rules are out, the vast majority of municipalities in this category will make their position known by the time recreational sales officially begin.
Marijuana industry watchers are wondering what industry players like Youngevity International Inc. (NASDAQ: YGYI) and Willow Biosciences Inc. (CSE: WLLW) think about this regulatory framework, which has become law in Maine.
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