Maine Could Start Accepting Recreational Marijuana Retail Applications By The End Of The Year

Oct 25, 2019

The state Marijuana Advisory Commission was told Thursday that by the end of this year, the state will start accepting online applications for retail licenses for sellers of marijuana intended for adult recreational use.

In this Dec. 13, 2017, file photo, James MacWilliams prunes a marijuana plant that he is growing indoors in Portland, Maine.
Credit Robert F. Bukaty / AP File

“We expect to start accepting applications here, shortly, in 2019,” says Erik Gundersen, the director of the Office of Marijuana policy. “And then it is tough to really forecast how long it will take to process those applications. We don’t know what kind of shape they are going to come in.”

Commission members asked when the first retail store selling marijuana could open, but Gundersen was cautious in predicting how long it would take to process applications and issue licenses, saying that it depends on the complexity of the application.

“We have worked at what I have been quoted as saying as ‘break-neck speed,’ which we really have,” says Gundersen. “Understanding that people have been waiting a really long time for this. But in that same vein, keeping in mind our mission statement and everything we do.”

Voters approved the sale of marijuana for recreational use in November of 2016, but creating a regulatory structure for its retail sale has been more difficult than lawmakers anticipated. The citizen-initiated measure passed by only about 4,000 votes out of nearly 760,000 that were cast, and that closeness was reflected in subsequent legislative votes and battles over rules to implement it.

Originally published 3:02 p.m. Oct. 24, 2019