A long road: Weed goes on sale years after approval in Maine

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Mainers are given their first opportunity to legally purchase adult recreational marijuana, but a supply shortage is a potential issue.
Retailers accuse the pandemic and a limited number of licensed manufacturers of reducing product variety on Friday, the opening day. Licenses were only issued a month ago.
That didn't dampen Matt Bourgeois' excitement to visit two newly opened cannabis stores in South Portland.
"It's the story I'm looking forward to," said the 40-year-old bourgeois from Hampton, New Hampshire, who wasn't concerned about limited edition products. “I want to take part in the historic moment. That's important to me. "
Maine's road to becoming the tenth state to allow retail sales of recreational marijuana has been extremely arduous.
Almost four years ago, in November 2016, a referendum was passed, but efforts to establish a method for the legal purchase of cannabis were dragged on by the governor through two vetoes, two legislative changes and a change of administration.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic, which caused further delays in the state determining how stores should be opened safely.
State law requires marijuana growers and product suppliers to be licensed, and products to be certified by a state-licensed laboratory. There are currently only a handful of manufacturers and one laboratory.
There are currently only seven stores, although the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy will be granting additional licenses in the coming months.
That's a bit of a disappointment for proponents. But it's better than nothing and provides a starting point, said David Boyer, an independent advisor to the Maine marijuana industry.
"In the honor of the state, there is something to be said about planting a flag, breaking the ice and starting sales for thousands of adults who for one reason or another are denied access. It's a big day," said he.
State law allows each customer to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, enough to roll more than 100 joints. You can also buy 5 grams of concentrate within this limit.
However, many retailers plan to limit customers to smaller quantities to expand their offerings, although many still assume they will sell out quickly.
Co-founder Brandon Pollock of Theory Wellness, who has cannabis stores in South Portland and Waterville, agreed that supply will be limited but said he was pleased that vendors didn't have to wait for that "purgatory" for years to come .
"It only gets better from here. We should all be aware that we have a legal entry point and we are doing our best to get as many products on the shelves as possible as soon as possible," he said .
The Maine medical marijuana market will be better filled with food and other products for now. The state's medical marijuana supervisors and eight pharmacies had sales of more than $ 111 million last year.
In total, more than 87,000 Mainers already have medical marijuana cards that they can use to make legal purchases.
Maine becomes the second state in New England to have stores selling marijuana. The first stores opened in Massachusetts in March.
Retail sales could begin in Vermont in two years after the governor announced this week that he would legislate on a bill to establish a system for selling cannabis without his signature.

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