Marijuana MSO Acreage wins motion to block Maine city from favoring residents

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Marijuana multistate operator Acreage Holdings continues to prevail in its legal efforts to thwart Maine and, now, its largest city from favoring homegrown businesses in the state’s impending adult-use market.

A federal judge ruled Friday that Portland can’t enforce scoring criteria that give licensing preference to locally owned marijuana businesses, Law360 reported.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the city filed by NPG, which does business as Wellness Connection, Maine’s largest medical cannabis operator.

Wellness Connection is owned by High Street Capital Partners, a subsidiary of New York-based Acreage.

Earlier this year, Wellness Connection challenged the state’s residency requirement, and Maine backed down, saying it was unlikely to prevail on a constitutional challenge.

Portland, which plans to issue 20 retail marijuana licenses, developed a scoring system that would have awarded:

  • Five of 34 points to applicants majority-owned by a Maine resident for at least five years.
  • Four points to applicants who previously held non-marijuana-related business licenses in the state.

In her ruling, the judge indicated that Portland would have a difficult time legally justifying its licensing scheme.

Portland officials had countered that regardless of how the scoring came out, Wellness would still be in control of a lucrative medical marijuana license in the city.

Maine regulators recently set Oct. 9 as the date adult-use sales would begin in the state, nearly four years after residents voted to legalize recreational cannabis.

Marijuana Business Daily projects the market will reach $275 million to $325 million a year in sales by 2024.