- The Washington Times - Friday, August 14, 2020

Marijuana regulators in Maine announced Friday that licensed retailers will be able to sell recreational pot effective Oct. 9, nearly four years after voters legalized retail weed.

The Office of Marijuana Policy, a division of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, announced it plans to begin issuing business licenses on Sept. 8.

Authorized dispensaries will be able to sell recreational marijuana the next month, adding Maine to a list soon to be 10 states with retail cannabis industries up and running.

Maine voted in 2016 to legalize the personal use and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes and to move forward with starting a system for regulating and taxing sales.

Recreational sales were previously expected to start earlier this year, but implementation was postponed in April due to health concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“With the support of the public health community, municipalities across the state and the industry we regulate, we have used the last few months to ensure this new industry is introduced to Maine consumers in a manner that is as responsible as possible,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen.

“Today’s announcement is a major milestone in honoring the will of Maine voters and a significant step toward launching a new industry in the state,” he said in a statement. “Many of the business owners we have spoken with during the application process are ready and eager to commence operations.”

Marijuana is illegal under federal law and classified by the government as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, placing it in the same category as hard drugs including heroin.

A majority of the nation’s states have passed laws defying federal prohibition, however, and recent polling shows a majority of Americans support national legalization.

Thirty-three states and D.C. have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana to varying degrees over the last several decades, including Maine in 1999.

Eleven of those states and D.C. have additionally legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and nine of those currently have systems in place for regulating and taxing sales.

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