Maine’s largest city OKs adult-use cannabis, caps store licenses at 20

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Portland, Maine, has opted into the state’s recreational marijuana industry with plans that call for 20 retail licenses and a scoring bonus for applicants who have been residents for at least five years.

The City Council of Maine’s biggest city voted 8-1 to approve the proposed licensing ordinance after more than a year of deliberations, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Councilors rejected a city staff recommendation to drop the residency scoring bonus.

The state recently decided it wouldn’t enforce a four-year residency requirement because officials didn’t believe the requirement could withstand a legal challenge by Maine’s largest medical cannabis operator, Wellness Connection of Maine.

Portland also will provide scoring points, according to the Press Herald, to applicants that fit the following categories:

  • Majority-owned by an economically disadvantaged applicant.
  • Experience in running regulated/licensed businesses.
  • Committed to creating well-paying jobs, good benefits, giving back to the community.
  • Have ownership of the retail location or a longstanding lease on the property.
  • Medical marijuana caregivers.
  • Well-capitalized, with at least $150,000 in liquid assets.

Roughly 40 Maine communities have opted into the state’s adult-use market so far.

The program was scheduled to launch this spring, but state officials recently said sales won’t start until enough stores are approved and ready to meet demand.

Maine’s voters legalized adult use in 2016, but former Gov. Paul LePage delayed implementation.

The updated Marijuana Business Factbook estimates that in-state customers will range from 190,000 to 230,000. Maine recreational cannabis stores also are expected to benefit from the state’s huge tourism industry.