Gov. Janet Mills signed legislation April 22 that intends to help municipalities cover the costs of inviting adult-use cannabis business operations into their jurisdictions.

The bill, Legislative Document 1195, authorizes $20,000 reimbursements to help towns and cities pay for expenses associated with the state’s adult-use program roll-out, including legal fees, drafting or amending ordinances, conducting town meetings and holding elections.

Funding for the reimbursements will come from the state’s Adult-Use Marijuana Public Health and Safety and Municipal Opt-In Fund, according to a news release from Maine House Democrats. The fund receives money from the sales and excise taxes imposed on adult-use cannabis and related products.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Tiffany Roberts, D-South Berwick.

“In the development of Maine’s adult-use marijuana industry, the state has asked municipalities to help balance the newly sanctioned use of this commodity, however, they are not yet seeing a return on their investment,” Roberts said in the release. “This bill will allow municipal governments to recover expenses from their regulation of the adult-use industry and encourage partnerships with local businesses.”

Maine, which launched its commercial adult-use retail program in October 2020, recorded $81.8 million in adult cannabis sales last year, according to data from the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy.

Among eight states that specifically tracked adult-use cannabis sales in 2021, Maine had the lowest per-capita sales figure at $78 for its 21-and-older population, according to data compiled by Cannabis Business Times.

But Maine’s retail market was up against a participation rate that only included 10% of municipalities opting in to allow licensed dispensaries to set up shop in their boundaries during the first year of the program—from October 2020 to October 2021.

Now, L.D. 1195 will direct the state to reimburse some of the qualifying expenses incurred by those municipalities in their effort to permit licensed adult-use cannabis businesses.

The new law will go into effect 90 days after the current session of the Legislature adjourns.

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