Legal sales of cannabis began last Friday in the small U.S. state of Maine, which voted to legalize cannabis in 2016.
Cannabis sales in Maine reached nearly $100,000 on the first day of opening, for just over 1 million people. However, retailers soon faced product shortages, and customers paid high prices, as they often do when legal sales open.
With only 8 approved dispensaries open for the launch, supplied by 8 crops, 4 processing labs, and a single testing laboratory, they had to limit the quantities authorized for purchase below the legal limits in an attempt to satisfy all customers as best they could.
Legalization with twists and turns
Maine voters legalized adult cannabis and allowed commercial production and sale of cannabis by licensed companies in November 2016.
However, former Republican Governor Paul LePage delayed implementation. After two years of legislative rewrites and multiple vetoes by LePage, cannabis legalization finally came into effect at the end of 2018. Most of the work to create cannabis regulations for the state took place after the election of current governor Janet Mills, a Democrat.
Together with the Mills administration, my office, the Office of Cannabis Regulation, was established in February last year,” said Erik Gundersen, its director. “And, when we arrived, we started with a clean slate and started working on the regulations that we developed quickly and which serve as a structure for this new industry.
Sales were expected to begin in March 2020, but regulatory delays, lack of test facilities, and the coronavirus pandemic have pushed back the launch date.