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Maine to start accepting applications for recreational pot businesses months before market is set to open

The Office of Marijuana Policy is set to open the online application for business owners Thursday.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Recreational pot sales are getting closer to becoming a reality in Maine as state regulators open the licensing process for businesses Thursday.

Business owners hoping to cash in can apply using an online form on the state's website.

The process for individual licenses began in November. 

RELATED: 'This is a historic step forward': Rep. Pingree on decriminalizing marijuana

All applicants have to go through a background check and obtain a state-issued ID card. 

Businesses will also need local approval before they can be licensed and open up shop.

Many cities and towns are still working to finalize their own rules. The City of Portland is still working on a lottery system to limit the number of facilities within city limits. 

RELATED: Portland still has a ways to go before it sees retail pot shops

Other municipalities have banned sales entirely.

It has taken officials months to finalize the rules and regulations surrounding recreational growth and sales at the state level. 

Recreational marijuana was first approved by voters and legalized in Maine back in 2016.

By law, owners and investors are limited to four retail licenses and three grow licenses each.

RELATED: Maine kids rank third in nation for marijuana use

Regulators have six months to approve the applications, but it could be sooner with the adult-use cannabis market set to open in March.

The first year of sales is expected to top $158 million, according to analysis by the New Frontier Group and our media partners at the Portland Press Herald.