Officials in Maine are projecting that cannabis will be on sale in stores by March 2020. A crucial piece of the state’s law has taken effect, which has enabled the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy to finalize the rules governing the sale of cannabis.
The Associated Press reported that the legislature “made tweaks to Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act that were necessary for the marijuana office to adopt the rules, which it is expected to do within two months,” and that a state spokesperson said applications for retail marijuana sales will be accepted by the end of this year.
The AP reported that the “state will need time to process the applications, and retailers will also need local approvals, but the state is projecting revenue from marijuana sales by March 15” of 2020.
Marijuana’s Long Journey in Maine
It’s been a long, fitful rollout for Maine’s cannabis law. Voters there approved a referendum in 2016 to legalize recreational pot use by a razor-thin margin that prompted calls for a recount. The result stood after a partial recount was suspended in January of 2017, but Paul LePage, the state’s Republican governor at the time, defied voters and remained steadfast in his opposition to the measure. He vetoed a bill to move ahead with legalization in November of 2017, saying he remained “concerned about expanded legalization of marijuana in Maine.”
“The dangers of legalizing marijuana and normalizing its use in our society cannot be understated,” LePage said in his veto letter. “Maine is now battling a horrific drug epidemic that claims more than one life a day due to overdoses caused by deadly opiates. Sending a message, especially to our young people, that some drugs that are still illegal under federal law are now sanctioned by the state may have unintended and grave consequences.” In April of last year, LePage again vetoed a bill to regulate marijuana in the state, but Maine lawmakers eventually overrode his veto.
Maine’s current governor, Democrat Janet Mills, has sang a very different tune. Elected last year, Mills made it clear throughout the campaign that she supported the implementation of the new law. In June, Mills signed a law that established rules over the sale of recreational marijuana that permitted licenses to sell marijuana to individuals 21 and over, while providing cities with the discretion over whether to allow sales or not.