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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Cars filled the parking lot at Northern Maine Flower — the first medical marijuana shop on Presque Isle’s Main Street — even during the coronavirus pandemic when stay-at-home orders were in force. And by fall, that business will have a competitor — Star City Wellness — only two minutes up the road.

Marijuana is emerging as a booming industry in a city often associated with rural conservatism. City leaders say there has been keen interest in developing pot shops since January, when the Presque Isle City Council unanimously approved the production and sale of recreational marijuana.

Though it’s still early in the game, the sizable interest by marijuana businesses in Presque Isle shows the appeal of the cannabis industry outside its urban base in cities like Lewiston, Portland and Bangor. And for Presque Isle — a city that has experienced issues with population decline, outmigration and business turnover — many city leaders say any industry that brings jobs to the Star City is worth welcoming.

City Manager Martin Puckett said city leaders are encouraged by interest from marijuana business owners, and that prospective entrepreneurs have reacted positively to the city’s marijuana ordinance.

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