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Maine to Legalize Recreational Marijuana By Year-End

Maine to Legalize Recreational Marijuana By Year-End

Posted by Nancy Moraa on 08/04/2020 in News

Updated on August 5, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Recreational Marijuana in Maine

In 1913, Marijuana was illegal in Maine, but in 1976, the possession of small amounts became decriminalized. Recently, the recreational use of Marijuana became decriminalized in a broader scope.  This happened first in Maine’s metropolitan cities, Portland, in 2013, and South Portland in 2014. 

The recent decriminalization in major cities also put pressure on the state government to act. Eventually, recreational Marijuana in Maine was approved.  And 2020 may see the roll-out of the state’s first recreational cannabis retail program. 

Maine First Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017

In 2016, the state government supported a ballot that proposed the statewide legalization of marijuana use and sales. In 2017 the Marijuana Legalization Act came into effect and allowed adults to grow and own cannabis for personal use. This law also states that there has to be a 10% tax on marijuana sales. 

As for Maine medical marijuana, it first became legal back in 1999. The law allowed the cultivation of plants. It wasn’t specific about any means for the legal sale of marijuana. It was in 2006 when a citizen-initiated bill went to vote and passed. The bill legalized non-profit dispensaries. The state’s Department of Health (DOH)  further regulated these marijuana dispensaries. 

Unsurprising Increase in Cannabis Sales Expected in Maine If Recreation Passes

According to state officials, the recreational marijuana industry’s sales potential is over  $300 million yearly. The program is currently expected to begin sales by the end of this year. It is good news for Maine residents who are anticipating adult-use. The delays in taking effect are due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has slowed the legislative process. 

According to the Portland Press Herald, the recreational marijuana launch date was determined by the first group of growers, processors, and testing facilities that will be fully operational by September. Still, the timeline allows several months for cultivators to expand infrastructure to meet the growing demand. It then has to undergo production and manufacturing to stock cannabis retail stores. And get ready for consumer sales and demand. 

Some applicants have found the delays to be quite costly. There are cannabis businesses that have spent tens of thousands of dollars on rent and other significant expenses. These expenses involve keeping the business operational. With the markets taking too long to open, they have to save incurring costs without collecting sales revenues. The majority of Maine communities have still not embraced adult-use marijuana. The state’s biggest cities have set the tone anyway since they have made significant milestones in developing successful cannabis markets.  

Tax Revenue Potential of Maine’s Recreational Cannabis Market

According to the Marijuana Business Factbook, once the sales launch, the cannabis market will generate more than $300 million a year. It is expected to happen within four to five years of launching. The first full year, however, is expected to hit and surpass $100 million.

Cannabis businesses are looking forward to the launch of recreational marijuana retail in Maine. Most of them have strategies in place to attract the largest market share. The public is also looking forward to quality cannabis products, and the freedom to purchase recreational marijuana. The state anticipates the benefits of extra revenue to help bridge the budget gap. 

Many states have considered placing medical cannabis (for the first time) or recreational marijuana on the November 2020 ballot.  The cost of healthcare administration for the Novel Covid-19 virus has left many state budgets in a precarious position.  And states are eyeing the potential revenue of both medical and recreational cannabis taxes to weather the pandemic fiscally.

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