Maine residents flocked to cannabis dispensaries on Friday to legally buy recreational marijuana for the first time, but even on day one retailers faced a supply shortage, according to a report.
Retailers blame the novel coronavirus pandemic and a limited number of licensed manufacturers for reducing the variety of products available. Licenses were issued only a month ago, causing retailers to scramble to stock their shelves, according to the Associated Press.
But that did not stop shoppers from showing up.
“This is a big day,” said Ben Bolstridge, of Lewiston, 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.”
Maine is now the 10th state to allow the retail sale of marijuana for recreational use – but it wasn’t easy.
A referendum was approved nearly four years ago, in November 2016, but the effort to set up a method for legally purchasing cannabis dragged on through two vetoes by the governor, two legislative rewrites, and a change in administrations, said Erik Gundersen, director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy.
Once things got rolling, the coronavirus pandemic created further delays as the state determined how to safely open stores, he said.
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, one laboratory and seven stores.
State law allows each customer to buy up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, enough to roll more than 100 joints. Included within that limit, customers may also purchase 5 grams of concentrate.
Many retailers, however, were limiting customers to smaller purchases to stretch their supply.
Co-founder Brandon Pollock from Theory Wellness, which has cannabis stores in South Portland and Waterville, agreed that supply is limited for the moment but said he’s pleased vendors are out of the “purgatory” after years of delays.
“It’s only going to get better from here,” Pollock said. “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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.