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

The Portland City Council hosted a joint committee meeting Tuesday to discuss proposed regulations and licensing for retail pot shops in the city

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland residents and local business owners have been eagerly awaiting retail marijuana shops to open in Maine's largest city, but three year's after the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana, there's still a long way to go. 

On Tuesday, the Portland City Council hosted a joint committee meeting to discuss proposed regulations and the process for retail licensing. 

"Take the time to truly go through the draft and make the right decision for small business, Maine caregivers and families like mine," said Andrew Pettingill, owner of Evergreen Cannabis Company who hopes to open his shop in Portland. 

The city council committee went through a proposed plan made by city staff that outlines a dozen topics around retail sales of marijuana and licensing for those businesses. Two of the major topics of discussion for the committee and those in attendance for public comment were a 20 license limit for retail pot shops, as well as a weighted lottery system to determine those businesses. 

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"What I see being proposed is tilted towards those with deep pocket and that doesn't really seem fair for those that want to have a smaller local business," said David Boyen, a marijuana advocate. 

The weighted lottery system would reward points to businesses that have applied to the city based on criteria like experience, having Maine residents on staff, a well as a business plan, and the company's assets. 

A full list of the point matrix, as well as the full proposal can be found on the city's website here.  

The 20 license cap that has been suggested in Portland is based on other cities and towns across the country that have already rolled out marijuana shops. 

That was a topic of concern for many during public comment however saying that alcohol and liquor businesses do not have a maximum, and it doesn't give new business owners the same chance at becoming licensed. 

Other concerns in the proposal included regulations for safes and safety at the shops, license transferring from legal caregivers to retail shops, as well as a distance boundary between stores.

The committee has not set a future date to discuss this topic, but it does plan to discuss the proposed regulations and licensing plans thoroughly before voting and sending it to the full city council.