Portland, Maine Approves Local Cannabis Ordinance

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Portland, Maine, the state’s largest city, opted in to hosting the cannabis industry and approved a local ordinance May 18 to create a licensing system, fee schedule and rules for businesses, according to a Portland Press Herald report.

Portland City Council voted 8-1 to approve the ordinance, which includes a residency bonus for license applicants who have lived in Maine for at least four years, the news outlet reported.

Just last week, Maine eliminated a similar rule mandating that adult-use cannabis business license applicants had to live in the state for a minimum of four years after the state reached an agreement with cannabis operator Wellness Connection of Maine, which filed a lawsuit in March to challenge the constitutionality of the residency requirement.

Portland will cap the number of cannabis dispensary licenses within its borders at 20 and use a scoring system to issue the licenses, the Portland Press Herald reported. Under its ordinance, Portland will give licensing preference to disadvantaged business owners, medical cannabis caregivers and companies that donate 1% of their profits to the city for substance abuse prevention, among others, according to the news outlet.

Portland has been working on its cannabis ordinance for more than a year, the Portland Press Herald reported, as city council has been debating the licensing structure since it unveiled a cannabis zoning map in February 2019.

Last month, the Portland City Council voted to issue temporary cannabis testing lab licenses before finalizing its ordinance in an effort to ensure a quick launch of Maine’s adult-use market after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused regulators to indefinitely postpone the rollout of adult-use sales.

Forty other Maine communities have agreed to host adult-use cannabis businesses, according to the Portland Press Herald, although Office of Marijuana Policy Director Erik Gunderson has warned that authorization from the state’s municipalities could be the next obstacle in launching the market, especially as many communities remain shut down due to the coronavirus.

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