Maine has finally chosen a date for recreational cannabis sales to commence

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

October 9, 2020 will be a special day for cannabis consumers and retailers in Maine, since this marks the date on which retail sales of adult-use cannabis will begin. The news was announced by Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy, which confirmed that consumers aged 21 and above will be able to get their hands on legal weed from state-licensed stores with a valid form of identification.

Constituting an element of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Maine’s OMP which was established in February 2019 and is also responsible for overseeing the medical cannabis market has revealed that it will be distributing the first active licenses for recreational cannabis stores on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. 

On this date, information will be released pertaining to the identities of active licensees, as well as the number of licenses to be issued; of which will be awarded to product manufacturers, cultivators, retail sellers and testers.  

“The public’s health and safety are at the forefront of every decision we make at the Office of Marijuana Policy. 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,” said the OMP’s Director, Erik Gundersen. 

Maine’s adult-use cannabis market was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Thanks to the department’s announcement that active licenses will be issued, the OMP can continue rolling out the state’s adult-use market, which remains in its infant stages. When the COVID-19 drama proliferated, Maine’s recreational cannabis market was put on hold. Nonetheless, the profit potential remained in sight.

“It is expected adult-use licensees will utilize the time between active licensure and Maine’s retail sales launch date to harvest and process [cannabis], ensure those products satisfy the mandatory testing requirements, and move products through the supply chain to stock retail store shelves,” reads an excerpt from the department’s recent statement.

Legal sales of adult-use cannabis in Maine were expected to begin in February 

Back in 2016, Maine’s pro-cannabis voters took strides towards legalizing the plant for recreational purposes. Although legal sales were anticipated to launch in February 2018, the process was delayed by Governor Paul LePage. Fortunately, his replacement Janet Mills managed to breathe new life into Maine’s adult-use cannabis program. With Mills on board from January 2019 onwards, a bill defining the program was signed into law in June 2019.

Under the terms of Maine’s adult-use law, applicants must have completed all of the necessary federal and state criminal history record checks. Furthermore, it is imperative that the Marijuana Legalization Act is abided by for all things associated with the functioning and security of a recreational cannabis establishment. 

“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. Many of the business owners we have spoken with during the application process are ready and eager to commence operations. 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,” Gundersen concluded.