Marijuana is on display in a glass case at Firestorm in Bangor on the first day of legal marijuana sales on Oct. 9, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

A federal court has ruled that Maine cannot bar out-of-state companies from operating medical marijuana dispensaries.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen ruled Wednesday in favor of Wellness Connection of Maine, and its parent company, High Street Capital Partners, of Delaware, in a lawsuit to overturn a state requirement that all dispensaries be owned by Mainers,  the Portland Press Herald reported.

The plaintiffs argued that the requirement has limited potential investors in the company, devaluing it, and similarly, has stifled dispensaries statewide by limiting investment opportunities.

The decision means that out-of-state investors will be able to open medical dispensaries and adult-use stores in Maine. The state recently reached an agreement to eliminate the residency requirement in its adult-use cannabis program.

The in-state licensing preference had been at the core of Maine’s marijuana laws since the dispensary system was created in 2011.