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Portland Sets Ordinance Giving Locals an Edge



Recently, Wellness Connection, a chain cannabis-company won its suit against the state of Maine. Pressed, the defendants of Maine failed to provide crucial arguments and as such dropped the residency requirement outright. By doing so this decision welcomes in what is sure to be a slew of out-of-state investors hungry for cannabis dollars. 


Like us, the rest of Maine was upset. With these flood-gates being open we have failed to keep a new-sprawling industry local or competitive. No one wins but a few disconnected stake-holders. We have failed to ensure that cannabis will create new business and opportunity amongst Mainers. However, there shalt not be darkness at the end of the tunnel. 


Late Monday night, (the 18th of May), Portland City Council voted “8-1 to approve its proposed licensing ordinance, fee schedule and rules for cannabis businesses.” Notably, the council “rejected a staff recommendation to strip the residency bonus available to applicants who have lived in Maine for at least five years in the wake of the state’s decision to abandon a similar licensing preference last week” (Portland Press Herald). Portland already had an existing system that awarded points for factors used to measure an entity's competency to enter a market, residency was just one of those components. “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” wrote Melissa Schiller of the Cannabis Business Times. While this local-vote is favored by many Mainers, as well as being an admirable show of unity from the city, it may fall on deaf ears. Wellness Connection has already gotten the state to back down from a lawsuit, can a city with a much smaller budget and sway have enough steam to get anywhere? Some are worried that the Coronavirus has left Portland vulnerable financially and thus result in their incapability to stand toe-to-toe with Wellness in court. 


While this move is bold, commendable and backable, it's not fiscally-practical. Time will only tell if Wellness or any other out-of-state conglomerate will take Portland to court. Time will only tell.


Evan

Host of the Maine Potcast


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