There is one less hurdle to opening up a marijuana business in Maine: chiefly, you don’t have to be a resident of the state.
A lawsuit between the state and a licensed cannabis business there called Wellness Connection reached a resolution earlier this week, with the two sides reportedly agreeing to a stipulation that the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy “will no longer enforce a residency requirement on those seeking an adult-use cannabis business license.”
The lawsuit, filed in March by Wellness Connection in federal court, challenged the state law saying that only residents of the state or companies that are majority-owned by Maine residents, could receive licenses for recreational pot dispensaries. Wells, which owns half of the state’s medical dispensaries, stated in its lawsuit that it is 51-percent-owned by Maine residents, according to the Portland Press Herald, the company “argued that a residency requirement violates its constitutional right to interstate commerce by explicitly favoring Mainers over non-residents.”
“Wellness, Maine’s largest medical cannabis company, is controlled by an out-of-state investor owned by multinational Acreage Holdings…If it sought to raise money from out-of-state investors, that could tip the ownership balance and would’ve made Wellness ineligible under current Maine law to receive a state adult-use permit,” the Press Herald reported.
The Long Journey For Adult-Use Cannabis
Voters in Maine approved a referendum in 2016 to legalize recreational pot use by a razor-thin margin that prompted calls for a recount. The result stood after a partial recount was suspended in January of 2017, but Paul LePage, the state’s Republican governor at the time, defied voters and remained steadfast in his opposition to the measure. He vetoed a bill to move ahead with legalization in November of 2017, saying he remained “concerned about expanded legalization of marijuana in Maine.”
But after fits and starts—and the election of a governor, Democrat Janet Mills, who feels quite differently about the law—the recreational pot market is slated to open in June, three months later than planned, a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Maine Office of Marijuana Policy put the planned June opening of the adult-use market on indefinite hold because of the pandemic. The state cited public health concerns of opening day crowds and the quarantine-related delay in local permits for marijuana testing labs as reasons for delay.