Pat Beggan

Proposal Would Give Maine Municipalities Power to Ban Cannabis Retailers

On Friday, Maine state Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta) proposed an amendment to a pending medical marijuana reform bill that would require all caregivers to acquire municipal approval to operate a storefront, the Portland Press Herald reports. The amendment is designed to patch a loophole between the adult-use bill passed into law in May and the state’s longer-standing medical cannabis rules.

“This amendment would not stop licensed caregivers from selling out of their homes, where they grow their medical marijuana. It would, however, give municipalities control over all local retail marijuana sales – medical, recreational, all of it.” — Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, via Portland Press Herald

The medical marijuana reform bill amended by this measure, should it pass, will be the first official recognition of these retail medical marijuana stores. Maine has been calling these gray area retail stores “caregiver storefronts.”

Officials have been concerned about an explosion of unregulated retail storefronts in many historic Maine downtown business centers. The shops opened following passage of the adult-use cannabis law, which opened up a gray area for cannabis retail. Many believed that an opt-out clause in the adult-use law would have allowed municipalities to ban retail stores — but that opt-out clause only applies to purely recreational stores, not medical operations.

“The state has left us in a very difficult position. It’s not enforcing its own laws. They’re leaving it up to us to interpret the law and do the work. […] Tying the future of our downtown to a volatile market is risky.” — Nate Rudy, Town Manager of Hallowell, Maine via the Portland Press Herald

Those stores which have already acquired local municipal approval would be able to continue operating. Those that did not may be closed down if the municipalities they operate in choose to ban medical marijuana caregiver shops.

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