How to Open a Dispensary in Maine

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Maine was one of seven different states that voted to legalize medical cannabis in November 2016. Here’s what you need to know to open a dispensary in Maine. First off, licensed dispensaries should be registered as non-profits. Priority is given to registered caretakers and existing dispensary owners.

Right now, only Maine residents are eligible to start a cannabis dispensary in Maine. Municipalities have the right to reject, ban, or place moratoriums on licensed dispensaries if they don’t comply with local laws. As such, business owners should always be aware of their local laws, and contact the authorities before applying for a cannabis business license. That said, the law is currently being drafted and won’t be finalized before February 2018.

Recreational Cannabis in Maine

Under the new regulations, enacted on November 8th, 2016, Maine now allows recreational cannabis businesses. This includes:

  • Retail cannabis stores
  • Retail cannabis cultivation facilities
  • Retail cannabis product manufacturing facilities
  • Retail cannabis testing facilities
  • Retail cannabis social clubs

Existing Dispensaries

Maine’s marijuana program is monitored and regulated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The law allowed for 8 non-for-profit, state-licensed dispensaries and all 8 were awarded in 2010.

As of now, the state has yet to establish a concrete application process, and they are not required to do so until February 2018. This will give agencies and lawmakers some overhead to draft rules and enforcement policies.

Under the new law, licensing priorities are given to registered patient caregivers, experienced principal officers and board members of a medical cannabis dispensary who have been registered with the state under the Maine Medical Marijuana Use Act.

How Much is Maine’s Cannabis Industry Worth?

In 2016, medical sales reached 52.2 million, and projected profits are actually expected to drop to around 35.5 million by 2021, likely due expected popularity of recreational cannabis sales. Converesely, adult use sales are expected to skyrocket to 126.2 million in total by 2021.

Profits of the cannabis industry in Maine

Profits of the cannabis industry in Maine – Image powered by

Dispensary Owner’s Requirements

Potential business owners are allowed to open retail dispensaries in Maine, but this depends entirely on the location they will choose. The state allows local municipalities to ban businesses or revoke business licenses if they feel it’s necessary.

License Requirements

Municipalities reserve the right to impose zoning restrictions on all retail cannabis businesses, whether it’s for a delivery service or for a dispensary. They can also regulate the location and operation of all retail cannabis establishments and social clubs. Additionally, they can enact additional requirements if they choose to do so.

Applicants for a license must be at least 21 years old, citizens of Maine and have a verifiable SSN. Their businesse must be a partnership, association, company, corporation, LLC or organization. If the applicant happens to be a corporation, all board members must fulfill the above criteria.
Also, drug convictions punishable for 5 years or more might automatically disqualify applicants, provided that 10 years or more have not yet passed since they happened.

Cannabis business licenses are regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

Financial Requirements

The state licensing authority is expected to offer the following license types, with an annual fee in the listed range:

  • Retail marijuana store license: license fee of $250-$2,500; non-refundable application fee of $10-$250
  • Retail marijuana cultivation facility license: license fee of $10-$100 per 100 square feet; non-refundable application fee of $10-$250
  • Retail marijuana products manufacturing facility license: license fee of $100-1,000; non-refundable application fee of $10-$250
  • Retail marijuana testing facility license: license fee of $500; non-refundable application fee of $10-$250
  • Retail marijuana social club license: license fee of $250-$2,500; non-refundable application fee of $10-$250

What Will My Profits Be?

Cannabis dispensaries are usually very profitable. It is common for a dispensary to make anywhere from 50 thousand a year to millions of dollars. Making tens of millions of dollars is not unheard of. The amount of time needed to launch a cannabis business can vary greatly. It depends on available finances, access to suppliers and employees and the ability to acquire licenses. New owners should expect the process to take at least a year before they can start earning money.

 Consulting Companies

These companies can help you navigate the licensing requirements and get your business up and running.


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