Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has signed a bill codifying rules for the state’s recreational cannabis industry, the Portland Press Herald reports. The signing comes more than two years after voters in the state approved a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for adult use, but the reforms were blocked by former Gov. Paul LePage.
“Over the course of the last several months, my administration has worked quickly to implement the law regarding Maine’s adult-use recreational marijuana market as Maine voters asked the state to do 2½ years ago. The rule development demonstrates what can be accomplished when state government works with lawmakers, industry stakeholders and the public to accomplish a shared goal.” – Mills, to the Press Herald
The law has the strictest residency requirements for cannabis businesses in the nation – owners or those who own majority interest in the company must have lived in the state for four years in order to get a license. The rules do allow out-of-state companies to control Maine canna-businesses – which was changed from the initial version of the regulations after Wellness Connection of Maine threatened to sue the state over the investment limits. Wellness Maine said those stricter rules would have effectively barred it from operating in the state due to its relationship with Acreage Holdings of New York.
The regulations include municipal control for localities to ban the industry or create their own rules if they opt in. According to the report, just 15 of the state’s 455 municipalities have opted in to allow adult-use sales.
Analysts suggest that Maine’s market will be larger than it’s New England counterpart, Massachusetts, with a customer base of about 173,000 and projected revenues of $107 million by 2020. Massachusetts budget officials expect $84 million in cannabis sales in the state by 2020. In Maine, the industry could employ as many as 5,400 people.
The rules take effect 90 days from June 20.