Maine voters may have approved adult-use marijuana legalization in November 2016, but Governor Paul LePage refused to implement the program so nothing happened until January 2019, when LePage left office.
Initially, the adult-use statute had a four-year residency requirement, however, the Office of Marijuana Policy no longer enforces that requirement, though a business entity must be filed in the state of Maine.
The Maine Marijuana Legalization Act provides for four types of adult-use licenses: cultivation, manufacturing, retail and testing. The state’s nurseries are technically cultivation licensees, but they can make direct sales to residents. A licensee may have multiple licenses, except that a testing facility licensee may not hold any other license.
The state does not impose a license cap. So long as an applicant meets the criteria for approval, it will be approved. Approval is a three-step process which typically takes about a year. The state first issues conditional approval, which allows the applicant to go to the municipality for approval. After the municipality notifies the state of approval, the state gathers updated information and issues the active license.
Municipalities have great control over adult-use marijuana businesses. Under state law, a municipality must have an ordinance opting in to allowing adult-use businesses. Its ordinances can, among other things, designate zoning districts for adult-use businesses, cap the number of a type of license in the town or allow only those already operating medical marijuana businesses to operate adult-use businesses. Municipalities can also set license fees, which are often significantly more expensive than the state license fee.
Maine’s medical marijuana program is completely separate from its adult-use program. Maine has two levels of medical marijuana licenses: caregivers and dispensaries.
The state licenses individuals (but not businesses) as medical marijuana caregivers. A caregiver can operate one store and choose to cultivate up to 30 flowering plants and 60 vegetative plants or 500 square feet of flowering plant canopy to accommodate different growing styles. Caregivers can sell directly to certified patients or wholesale to caregiver stores.
Municipalities must have an opt-in ordinance to allow any new caregiver store and it may not prohibit or limit the number of caregivers operating there.
In Maine, a dispensary is a specific type of license. It allows for multiple medical marijuana retail stores and cultivation facilities with no grow limits. Until recently, the state capped the number of dispensaries at eight. Dispensary license applications became available in August 2021.
Tammie Snow |The Law Office of Tammie L. Snow