Marijuana goes on sale years after approval in Maine – NECN

The Mainers have their first opportunity to legally purchase adult recreational marijuana, but a supply shortage is a potential buzzkill.

Retailers blame the pandemic and a limited number of licensed manufacturers for reducing the variety of products available Friday, opening day. The licenses were issued only a month ago.

That didn’t dampen Matt Bourgeois’ enthusiasm to hit two newly opened cannabis stores in South Portland.

“It’s history that excites me,” said Bourgeois, 40, of Hampton, New Hampshire, who was not worried about limited products. “I would love to be part of this historic moment. It’s important to me. “

Maine’s road to becoming the 10th state to allow the retail sale of recreational marijuana has been exceptionally difficult.

A referendum was approved almost four years ago, in November 2016, but efforts to put in place a method of legally purchasing cannabis dragged on with two governor’s vetoes, two legislative rewrites and a change in government. administration.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic which created further delays as the state determined how to safely open stores.

Under state law, marijuana growers and product suppliers must be licensed, and products must be certified by a state-approved laboratory. At the moment, there are only a handful of manufacturers, and a laboratory.

It’s a bit of a disappointment for the defenders. But it’s better than nothing and it’s a place to start, said David Boyer, an independent consultant to the Maine marijuana industry.

“To the credit of the state, there is something to be said for planting a flag and breaking the ice and launching sales for thousands of adults who do not have access for one reason or another. is a great day, ”he said.

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State law allows each customer to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, enough to roll over 100 joints. Included in this limit, they can also buy 5 grams of concentrate.

However, many retailers plan to limit customers to smaller quantities to expand their offering, although many still expect to sell quickly.

Theory Wellness co-founder Brandon Pollock, which owns cannabis stores in South Portland and Waterville, agreed the supply would be limited, but said he was happy the sellers have emerged from “purgatory” of years and years. years of waiting for this day. to come.

“It will only get better from here. We should all appreciate that we have a legal hotspot, and we are doing our best to get as many products off the shelves as quickly as possible,” a- he declared.

And there are only seven stores right now, although the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy is granting more in the coming months.

For now, Maine’s medical marijuana market will be better supplied with edibles and other products. The state’s medical marijuana caregivers and eight dispensaries accounted for more than $ 111 million in sales last year.

In total, more than 87,000 Mainers already hold medical marijuana cards, allowing them to make legal purchases.

Maine becomes New England’s second state with stores selling marijuana. The first stores opened in Massachusetts in March.

Retail sales could begin in Vermont in two years after the governor announced this week that he would let a bill instituting a system for the sale of cannabis become law without his signature.

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