Portland wants in on the state’s fledgling recreational-use marijuana industry, but its leaders want Mainers to have an edge over out-of-staters.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the City Council voted 8-1 to have Portland join 40 other Maine municipalities by approving licensing rules for cannabis businesses late Monday night — but with a difference.
Portland will keep a residency bonus for applicants who have lived in Maine for at least five years, unlike the state Office of Marijuana Policy, which abandoned its four-year residency requirement for state business licenses last week. The state Attorney General’s Office opted against defending the policy against a claim filed by the state’s largest medical marijuana distributor, Wellness Connection, that the residency requirement was unconstitutional. It claimed the restriction violated the 14th Amendment, which bars overly restrictive commercial regulations between states.
The Portland recreational-sales regulation, meanwhile, caps the number of marijuana retail licenses the city will issue at 20. It allows city officials to use a score sheet. With a maximum score allowed of 34 points, it awards 4 points to applicants that have run a state or locally licensed Maine business for at least five years, the Press Herald reports.
Yet it remains unclear when the 32 companies issued conditional licenses by the office will actually begin selling recreational pot. Former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, vetoed a 2017 implementing law before the Legislature coalesced around a different plan to override LePage’s veto the next year.