A customer pays for cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary after the start of recreational marijuana sales began on July 1, 2017 in Nevada. Maine consumers will have to wait longer than expected to purchase cannabis. (Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Maine says it will not be ready for recreational weed sales by deadline

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine officials say the state will not be able to meet its deadline for the start of recreational marijuana sales.

Republican State Sen. Roger Katz tells the Portland Press Herald the agencies responsible for the recreational market rollout do not have the time before the February deadline for things such as licensing growers, writing departmental rules and hiring new inspectors.

Advocates for legalization say the delay “keeps the black market going.” President of Legalize Maine Paul McCarrier estimates the state will not be able to issue adult-use licenses until summer 2018.

Voters had approved marijuana legalization at referendum in November 2016.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage has previously said he wanted legalization repealed. A spokesman for the governor did not respond to requests for comment.

Information from: Portland Press Herald