Maine on track for legal marijuana sales by spring 2020

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine marijuana enthusiasts will probably be able to purchase their preferred products in retail stores by March 2020 after years of waiting.

Voters approved legal adult-use marijuana at the polls in November 2016, and the road to legal sales has been long and bumpy.

But a key act passed by the Legislature is now in effect, and that means the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy is in a position to complete final adoption of marijuana rules, said David Heidrich, an office spokesman.

The act made tweaks to Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act that were necessary for the marijuana office to adopt the rules, which it is expected to do within two months. That means it will likely be able to accept applications for retail marijuana sales by the end of 2019, Heidrich said.

The state will need time to process the applications, and retailers will also need local approvals, but the state is projecting revenue from marijuana sales by March 15, Heidrich said. How swiftly the applications are approved might depend on how complete they are, he said.

“We won’t know until we get applications. It’s possible we get applications from someone who has all their ducks in a row and has a municipality lined up that’s poised to give them local authorization,” Heidrich said.

Maine’s rollout of legal marijuana has been beset with hiccups, such as a squabble over the hiring of a key consultant, and was also slowed by former Gov. Paul LePage’s opposition to legalization.

However, the result has been a process that will ultimately protect public health and safety, said Scott Gagnon, who led a drive against legalization and has since played a role on a state marijuana commission.

“From a public health perspective it has been a slower pace, a more deliberative pace than has happened in some states,” Gagnon said. “I think that’s been good.”

David Boyer, an independent marijuana industry consultant in Maine, said that it’s “disappointing that adults still don’t have a place to purchase legal cannabis in Maine,” but that the finish line is in sight.

Taxi drivers block traffic to protest Uber

MEXICO CITY — Thousands of medallion taxi drivers have parked their cars to block major Mexico City thoroughfares to protest ride-hailing apps such as Uber.

The ranks of white-and pink cabs caused major, hours-long delays for motorists Monday.

Taxi drivers say they have to comply with requirements for licensing, tax, inspection and tests that the ride-hailing apps don’t have to endure.

Eduardo Elizalde is a veteran with 40 years behind the wheel of Mexico City cabs.

He said drivers “want the laws enforced. We are not against anybody. But just as we have to pay taxes and pass exams, so should the apps.”

The city of 9 million has about 140,000 medallion cabs, and probably that many ride-hailing cars and gypsy cabs. New entrants like the Chinese app Didi have swelled the ranks.

HSBC reported to plan 10,000 job cuts

LONDON — British labor union Unite has expressed dismay over reports that the bank HSBC will slash 10,000 jobs worldwide.

HSBC declined to comment Monday on a Financial Times report that interim chief Noel Quinn plans to seek immediate saving across the group. The newspaper described the cuts as an attempt to rein in costs by reducing its headcount among a staff of about 238,000.

The bank has already eliminated some 4,700 jobs as it grapples with Brexit uncertainty and global trade squabbles.Dominic Hook, a Unite national officer, says “these stories of massive job losses require a comprehensive response by HSBC in order to reassure the workforce. This is a highly inappropriate way for staff to learn about any possible changes within the business.”

The Associated Press

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