Recreational marijuana sales in Maine will be launched in June, which is three months later than what the state regulators expected. Recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016 through the ballot by voters. Adult-use cannabis legalization was done through the approval of the Marijuana Legalization Act and was expected to be effective in 40 days after its passage.
The delay in launching recreational marijuana sales was due to delays in licensing marijuana businesses and testing laboratories. Maine’s associate commissioner of tax policy, Michael Allen, said that after consultations with the Office of Marijuana Policy, the state’s revenue forecasting committee is expecting cannabis sales tax proceeds to start coming in June, which is three months later than it was previously expected.
However, before legal sales can be launched, the state needs to have at least one lab that is fully operational to make sure that the state is complying with Maine laws governing marijuana safety, purity, and potency. Currently, there is only one lab that is almost fully licensed and four more are considering venturing into the marijuana industry.
Adult-use marijuana businesses must possess licenses issued by the state to start operating, and so far, Maine has received 197 applications. And about 80 of the applications are due for regulatory review. The director of the Office of Marijuana Policy, Erik Gunderson, said that the agency is about to issue the first round of conditional permits.
The applicants must obtain the approval of the local government where they are planning their marijuana retail outlet once they have been issued with the conditional license by the state. Depending on the local government, approval can take from two weeks to one year. The applicants then have to go back to the state regulators to receive an active license once the local jurisdiction has granted permission.
Gunderson further said that after a testing lab has been issued with the permit, permission to operate would be granted once the state regulators have licensed more than one retail shop to be ready to run during the launch.
Gunderson further said that this would allow the products to go through the stipulated testing schedule, manufacturing process, and finally allow retail stores to fully stock their shelves with a wide array of marijuana products. He then noted that he hopes that there would be enough products to cater for the first day, first weekend, and first-week demand. He hopes that they won’t encounter marijuana product shortages like other states, such as Illinois.
Gunderson did not issue a clarification on the number of retail outlets that would be open for business before the permits are issued. Belinda Ray, a Portland City councilor, said that the licensing process is time-consuming.
State officials are expecting to collect a total of $500,000 in cannabis taxes this financial year which ends on June 30, irrespective of the delay in launching adult-use marijuana sales.
It is believed that sector players like Willow Biosciences Inc. (TSX: WLLW) (OTCQB: CANSF) may be unhappy that the people of Maine are being to wait a lot longer than is necessary to access the opportunities that come with cannabis legalization, such as employment opportunities.
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