James MacWilliams prunes a marijuana plant that he is growing indoors in Portland, Dec. 17, 2017. Maine’s timeline for getting legalized marijuana in stores is uncertain in the wake of the cancellation of a consulting deal to write rules. The state hired a Los Angeles consultant to help craft the rules about issues such as sales and packaging. Maine officials were hopeful the rules would be ready by April 2019. However, on Friday officials say the state has withdrawn from the contract. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

The state has voided a contract won by a California consultant to propose rules and procedures for deploying the Maine’s legalized adult-use marijuana marketplace. The move came after a losing bidder with local ties appealed the award, saying the state failed to give adequate weight to that Maine connection.

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This development has raised concerns that the already much-delayed rollout of the state’s recreational pot system would slow even more. But Dick Thompson, deputy commissioner at the Department of Administration and Finance, said his agency is now drafting a revised request for proposals with the goal of completing the market regulations sooner than the original contract required.

“The administration understands that people are frustrated with the years of delay under the previous administration,” Thompson said. “We’re not delaying, we are moving steadfastly and as quickly as we can.”

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Thompson said that new evaluation criteria will include the vendor’s ability to deliver the recommendations quickly. The new request for proposals could be issued by Monday. Thompson said the state aims to get Maine’s marijuana marketplace up and running this year.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.