Maine authorities have estimated that dozens of applications to operate marijuana businesses are complete. An important step toward the first legal sales of the drug for recreational use by adults.

The Mainers voted to allow the legal use and sale of marijuana for recreational use in 2016. And the state is in the process of approving licenses for the first businesses. “The state began to consider more than 70 applications complete at the end of January” . Said David Heidrich, a spokesman for the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy.

The office will then review the applications and issue a conditional approval. After which facility owners will have to seek local approval from their city, Heidrich said. The businesses include 43 stores, 25 grow operations and 10 manufacturing facilities, he said.

The timing of the approval process probably means the businesses will open in the spring, Heidrich said.

This is what we have been working towards since we met our commitment to make applications available by the end of 2019. And we remain on track to meet that goal, he said.

The number of companies applying to open in the state has also increased. The state has received 81 applications to open marijuana shops. 64 applications to open grow operations and 24 applications to open manufacturing companies.

This is more than double the total number of applications the state had received by mid-December. The state is also seeking applications for testing facilities and expects to receive one or two in February, Heidrich said.

Also , applicants who receive approval from the state and local authorities will have to return to the state to obtain an active license.

Maine’s medical cannabis program

Maine has a long-standing medical marijuana program. And various people working in the industry have raised the legalization of recreational products as a concern or an opportunity.

Cliff Miller, a medical marijuana grower in Auburn. Said he received notice that the state had deemed his application to transition to an adult drug business to be complete.

So , if all goes well, Miller will expand his medical grow operation to 20,000 square feet of cultivation for the new recreational market. He is curious to see how that market will develop.

We don’t have a lot of historical data as a market to look at what’s happened here, what’s happened there,” Miller said. “But we do have a lot of states that literally, on the first day, had a supply and demand problem.

Catherine Lewis, chairman of the board of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said she and others hope that patients who use marijuana for medical purposes will continue their relationships with health care providers when retail becomes legal.

We explain to patients that they should keep their medical card, Lewis said.

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