Smoking weed is legal in Vacationland—you just can't legally buy it anywhere. But lawmakers hope that'll change by the end of the year.
Voters in Maine passed a referendum which officially legalized recreational cannabis for adult use all the way back in 2016. However, this tiny state has taken an excessively long amount of time getting their retail cannabis market off the ground—longer than its taken any other state to open legal pot shops. Things do appear to be moving forward though, and regulators in the state are hopeful the market will finally get going by the end of the year.
"We are working incredibly hard to get this thing rolled out," Erik Gundersen, director of Maine's Office of Marijuana Policy told The Press Herald. "There are people in my office that are working, no lie, seven days a week to make sure we can get this adult-use industry rolled out in 2019."
Right now the Office of Marijuana Policy is waiting on draft rules for the legal cannabis market to be delivered to them by the consulting firm hired to write them. Once they get the draft regulations, the rules will still need to be reviewed and revised by a number of state agencies. And if lawmakers are serious about getting the recreational cannabis market off the ground by the end of 2019, all of those revisions need to be done on time to go for a vote in the legislature before the session ends in June.
"Anybody who is familiar with the speed at which state government works knows that is more or less impossible, but we have timelines…we are set to actually deliver on," said Gundersen. "That is our goal. There are many roadblocks, but we are doing our best."
Bringing legal weed sales to Maine has seen a number of delays in the past few years. One of the biggest of those was former Gov. Paul LePage's continued attempts to block legal cannabis sales from moving forward. The Maine legislature was finally successful in overcoming LePage's interference in bringing legal weed to the people in May 2018.