By Associated Press
(AP) — Mainers got their first opportunity to legally buy marijuana for recreational use this week.
Dispensaries blame the pandemic and a limited number of licensed manufacturers for reducing the variety of products available. But that didn’t deter shoppers.
“This is a big day,” Ben Bolstridge, of Lewiston, said after making his purchases. “It’s the first time in Maine history that you can actually buy recreational marijuana. That’s awesome. I wanted to be here today.”
Licenses were issued only a month ago, causing retailers to scramble to stock their shelves.
Under state law, marijuana growers and product suppliers have to be licensed, and the products have to be certified by a state-licensed lab. For now, there are only a handful of manufacturers, and one laboratory.
Another dispensary was licensed this week, bringing the total to eight. But only six of them were open Friday, a state official said.
That’s a bit of a disappointment for advocates. But it’s better than nothing and it represents a starting point, said David Boyer, an independent marijuana industry consultant in Maine.
“To the state’s credit, there’s something to be said for planting a flag and breaking the ice and starting sales for thousands of adults who don’t have access for one reason or another. It’s a big day,” he said.
State law allows adults 21 and older to buy up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of cannabis, enough to roll more than 100 joints. Included within that limit, customers may also purchase 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of concentrate.
“It’s only going to get better from here. We should all appreciate that we have a legal access point, and we’re doing the best we can to get as much products on the shelves as quickly as possible,” said a dispensary owner.
Maine became the second state in New England — after Massachusetts — with dispensaries selling marijuana for recreational use.
As for medical marijuana, there is no supply shortage. That market is long established in Maine, and medical marijuana caregivers and eight dispensaries accounted for more than $111 million in sales last year. All told, about 87,000 Mainers hold medical marijuana cards, allowing them to make legal purchases from caregivers and dispensaries.
AP Photo David Sharp