Maine offers four categories of licenses in the adult-use marijuana arena: cultivation, product manufacturing, retail and testing facility. Cultivation licenses range from Tier 1, allowing a licensee to cultivate not more than 30 mature plants, up to Tier 4, allowing cultivators 20,000 square feet. Nursery licenses are also available. Applicants are not prohibited from having licenses from multiple categories, with the exception of testing facility licensees, who may not have additional adult-use licenses.
The licensing process begins with an application for a conditional state license, even if the applicant has not yet identified a location for the facility. A conditional license allows the applicant one year to obtain a site and municipal approval, and then apply to the state for an active license. No person may have a financial interest in more than three cultivation licenses, multiple cultivation licenses with a combined total of more than 30,000 square feet or more than four marijuana stores. An application for an active license requires a more detailed facility plan, including security and operations, a tracking system and the inclusion of any changes in ownership or control.
Only a small number of Maine towns, currently less than 10%, have opted in to the adult-use program, most of them in Southern Maine. Most towns accept applications from all who meet the statewide standards and local zoning requirements, while Portland uses a point system to award a limited number of retail licenses, now at 20. Preference is given to those from disadvantaged communities, cannabis caregivers, those with significant liquid assets, payment of a living wage and those who donate to substance abuse programs. Portland also awards points for those who have been Maine residents for at least five years, although state regulations no longer have a residency requirement.
Cultivation license application fees range from $60 to $500 and annual license fees from $250 to $30,000. Outdoor cultivation is permitted, and the fees are 50% lower than for indoor cultivation. Application fees for non-cultivation licenses are all $250 and annual fees range from $1,000 to $2,500.
While retail sales were projected to begin in spring 2020, that was delayed by the termination of a track-and-trace contract with BioTrackTHC and the signing of a new contract with Metrc LLC. A delay in retail sales was exacerbated by the lack of testing facilities in the state, without which retail stores cannot operate. It is currently predicted that retail shops will not open until early 2021.
Lynne Williams practices law in Maine. For many years she worked with medical marijuana caregiver clients, and now assists clients in obtaining Adult-Use cannabis licenses for retail, cultivation and product processing. Lynne is a long-time member of the NORML legal panel and a decades long legalization advocate.