Editorial: Delivery service usurps local control

Mainers ages 21 and up may legally have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational use. Green thumbs may grow their own for personal use, possessing up to three mature and 12 immature plants and an unlimited number of seedlings. That’s provided they keep their horticultural efforts out of the public eye and take reasonable precautions to prevent unauthorized access. For those who prefer a grab-and-go option, there are 74 adult-use stores with active licenses, according to the state Office of Marijuana Policy. Now, Rep. Joe Perry (D-Bangor) has drafted legislation to allow consumers another choice: delivery to their doors. 

Last week, legislators on the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs heard comments on L.D. 1827, which would allow retail marijuana stores to deliver marijuana, marijuana plants and products anywhere in the state, regardless of whether the buyer lives in a municipality that has “opted in” to allowing retail marijuana businesses. Perry pointed out that while possessing marijuana is legal statewide, it can be difficult to purchase legally in some parts of the state because towns have not opted in. Delivery service would prevent users from having to travel long distances to buy legal products and support businesses, he said, while potentially curbing the risk of illegal sales or driving home while under the influence. 

In addition to being an end run around the local choice afforded by the “opt in” rules, the measure also seems to be too much, too soon. It was only last year that voters in Lamoine authorized in-town sales of liquor – a substance widely and legally available since the end of Prohibition.  

The first retail marijuana establishments in the state were licensed in September 2020. More are in the pipeline. As communities watch how such businesses play out elsewhere, they may well decide to welcome them in the future. Or they may not. Allowing delivery in the meantime would undermine that local decision-making process and give away market share. Towns that perform their due diligence, gain voter approval and carefully draft local rules might find it’s all for naught. The customers that might have frequented those local businesses may already be signed on for delivery service from elsewhere.  

Medical cannabis providers already may offer delivery so consumers with health reasons can seek that avenue. For everyone else, convenience should not supersede local control. Those who would like to see retail sales in their town are free to initiate a (ahem) grassroots effort to bring the measure to voters.  

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