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Retail Pot Arrives in Portland

Dozens of retail Cannabis shops are expected to be licensed and operational in Maine's biggest city.


After a slow start, Maine’s biggest city is getting into recreational Cannabis in a big way. Licenses have already been approved for two adult-use pot shops to open in Portland, and 31 additional retail permits could be awarded soon. 

At the moment, 59 canna-business applications are awaiting approval as retail, testing and manufacturing companies look to set up shop in Portland in 2021.

Of course, the state launched adult-use retail sales more than five months ago, on October 9, 2020. Despite some early hiccups, the program got off to a good start with thousands of transactions over the long weekend resulting in $250,000 in recreational Cannabis sales.

But Portland missed the party. That’s because, prior to the start of retail Cannabis, the city council capped the number of adult-use pot shops allowed to open. The city limited itself to 20 retail stores at the start of legal sales, in an effort to ease into the industry. However, the point system they planned to use to select those 20 stores prioritized in-state businesses. A lawsuit by an out-of-state applicant brought the issue to court, where a federal judge ruled that the point system was unfairly discriminatory.

The federal ruling left the city scrambling and certain to miss the start of legal sales. Ultimately, residents nixed the retail shop cap through a referendum, and even chose to reduce the required distance between stores from 250 to 100 feet.

Now, five months after the official start of sales in the state – and more than four years since a tax and regulate plan was approved on Election Day in 2016 – retail Cannabis has come to Portland.

SeaWeed Co. and Grass Roots Marijuana Shop have already received approval to open, and a number of other Cannabis stores are expected to be licensed and operational in the coming months, according to the Portland Press Herald.

While medical Cannabis sales have dwarfed recreational sales numbers since retail kicked off in October, adult-use marijuana revenue has steadily increased each month. So far, the state has sold $9.29 million of retail pot. Portland has only received a handful of medical marijuana dispensary applications. In fact, even the state’s biggest medical pot provider, Wellness Connection of Maine, has applied to switch its Portland location over to retail sales, after operating as a medical dispensary in the city for nine years.

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