Marijuana sales in Maine officially begin on Friday after almost four years since the legalization of the drug for recreational purposes. However, the big move comes with fears of product shortages as the state has only eight licensed providers bracing for the launch.
In 2016, voters in Maine legalized the consumption of recreational marijuana. They also voted for licensed businesses to produce and sell commercial marijuana. The regulations strictly limit the purchasing of marijuana to people aged 21 years and above.
However, those measures were never implemented due to opposition from the then-Republican Governor, Paul LePage. After two years of legislative deliberation led by LePage, marijuana legalization was signed into law.
According to the director of Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy, Erik Gundersen, the previous state administration did little to support marijuana regulations. He added that the current Democrat Governor, Janet Mills, and her administration did all the work to facilitate functioning cannabis regulations.
The longstanding regulatory framework is not the only challenge the cannabis industry in Maine has had to endure. Recreational marijuana trade was slated to begin in March earlier this year, but the date was pushed back due to COVID-19 and insufficient testing labs.
Recreational marijuana businesses in Maine are eager to open their doors, saying that prospective customers have been waiting for too long.
As Maine’s cannabis industry kicks off, there are concerns about a limited production capacity until more businesses acquire licensing to operate. The new industry is presently served by only eight plantation establishments, four production facilities, and a single testing lab.
While there are concerns about production capacity once the market opens, some businesses believe there is nothing to worry about. Theory Wellness, an operator with a dispensary in Portland, Maine, has increased its production capacity in anticipation of demand.