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How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary in Maine

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Last Updated: 9/27/2019

Maine legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2016. However, retail sales didn’t become legal until three years later, when the Maine Legislature passed a bill regulating the adult use of marijuana. This bill went into effect on September 18, 2019.

If you are a new business owner, you may want to look into starting a dispensary to be part of this growing industry. But, first, you need to be aware of the laws and compliance procedures associated with the cannabis business.

The following table summarizes the laws and procedures you need to know before opening a marijuana dispensary in Maine.

Relevant Laws

Age and Residency Requirements

  • You need to be 21 or older to apply for a license; and
  • If you own at least 51% of the ownership shares of a marijuana business, you must be a resident of Maine for at least four years before applying for a license.

Criminal Background

The Office of Marijuana Policy requires owners and all employees to submit their fingerprints for a criminal background check.

Taxation Requirements

There is a 10% sales tax on adult use of marijuana.

Types of Licenses

The state recognizes the following retail marijuana licenses:
  • Social club licenses
  • Cultivation facility licenses
  • Testing facility licenses
  • Products manufacturing facility licenses
  • Store license
  • Occupational licenses

Who Can I Sell Cannabis To?

You can sell marijuana to people who are 21 or older. You are required to ask for a government-issued ID to verify the age of the consumer.

Licensing Fees

The retail marijuana licensing fees are:
  • Application fee: Ranges from $10 to $250 (nonrefundable)
  • Licensing fee: Ranges from $250 to $2500

How Much Cannabis Can I Sell in a Day?

There is a limit to the amount of cannabis you can sell to each consumer per day:

  • No more than 2.5 ounces; and/or
  • No more than 5 grams of concentrated marijuana whether sold alone or infused in edible marijuana products.

Hours of Operation

You can sell marijuana from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Can My Dispensary Be Located Anywhere?

You can’t run a dispensary within 1000 feet of any preexisting private or public school. Local laws may, however, limit that distance to no less than 500 feet.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Who Oversees the Marijuana Dispensary Industry?

The Office of Marijuana Policy is the department in charge of issuing licenses and regulating the dispensary industry.

Application Process

First, you need to apply to get a conditional license by sending all forms and other required information to the department. After running a background check and ensuring you have submitted the required documents, the department will either approve or deny your application. The department needs to give you a decision within 90 days.

If you comply with all the requirements, the department will grant you a conditional license. The next step is to secure a premise and get the approval from the local province to run a marijuana business. You have one year from the date your conditional license was issued to secure a location and get the approval from the municipality.

Within 10 days of getting the approval from the municipality, the department will issue you an active license. It may also ask you for additional documents as it deems necessary.

You should note, however, that a conditional license doesn’t allow you to start your dispensary business. You need an active license before you can open a dispensary.

Who Is Ineligible to Get a License?

Being over 21 is not the only requirement to qualify for a license. Business owners who fall under one of the following categories are ineligible to get a license:

  • A person convicted of violating a state or federal controlled substance law. The violation needs to be punishable by imprisonment of one year or more.
  • A person who previously had their license revoked
  • A person who has served as a police officer, sheriff prosecutor, or an employee of the licensing authority of the state

Can I Sell Other Products in My Dispensary?

  • If you are running a marijuana dispensary, you can’t sell or give away other consumable products. These include alcohol, cigarettes, and other edible products that don’t contain cannabis.

Can I Advertise My Dispensary Anywhere?

Marijuana business owners can’t advertise their products in a way that might be attractive to minors. They also cannot promote illegal activity and irresponsible use. The complete list of advertising restrictions are found under section 5 of the provisionally adopted rules.

Make Sure You Are Compliant to Local Laws

The state won’t issue a license unless the specific city or municipality approves the license. The law also requires cities to affirmatively opt in before dispensaries can start operating. Failure to opt in means a city has prohibited retail sales of marijuana despite the state laws.

Only 15 Maine cities have approved the retail sale of cannabis as of September 2019. It is thus important to make sure your dispensary is in a city that approves retail sales.

You should also note that cities can set their own local rules and regulations on how dispensaries are regulated.

Was Your Application Denied?

The law gives the department the ability to deny your application for good cause. If that happens, the department is required to give you a reason for the denial and inform you of your right to appeal the decision.

Still Have Questions?

The Maine legislature website is a good resource to get more information on retail cannabis sales. You should regularly check this website to keep up to date with the changing laws and regulations.

Additional Resources

Get Help With Your Dispensary Application From a Maine Attorney

Starting a marijuana business can be complicated and lengthy. This is true especially in Maine where the laws are constantly changing. In addition, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, which will affect your business plan and structure. Get help from a Maine cannabis business attorney to ensure you comply with local and state laws.