How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary in Maine

Maine passed the Marijuana Legalization Act (MLA) in 2016. This law legalized the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana. However, due to several rewrites of the MLA, Maine's cannabis dispensaries did not start selling adult use cannabis products until October 9, 2020.


If you are a new cannabis business owner in the state of Maine, it is important to understand Maine's marijuana laws and ordinances. 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 at least 21 years of age to apply for a license; and
  • If you own at least 51% of the ownership shares of a marijuana business, you must be a Maine resident for at least four years before applying for a license

Criminal Background

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

Taxation Requirements

There is a 10% sales tax on adult use of marijuana. Cultivation facilities pay a 15% excise tax on marijuana. Medical cannabis patients do not pay taxes.

Types of Cannabis Licenses

The state recognizes the following marijuana licenses:

  • Social club licenses
  • Cultivation facility licenses
  • Testing facility/Testing laboratory licenses
  • Products manufacturing facility licenses
  • Marijuana Store/Dispensary licenses
  • Occupational licenses

Maine residents can keep three to twelve mature plants for personal use without needing a license.

Who Can I Sell Cannabis To?

You can sell recreational cannabis to people who are 21 years of age or older. You must ask for a government-issued ID to verify the age of the consumer.

Licensing Fees

Marijuana licensing fees for a cannabis store include:

Note: When applying for a cultivation license, the license fees may vary depending on the plant-canopy tier level you require. The highest fee is $30,000.

How Much Cannabis Can I Sell in a Day?

There is a limit to the amount of cannabis a cannabis retail store 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

A cannabis store can sell marijuana from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Can My Dispensary Location Be Anywhere?

You cannot operate a cannabis establishment 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 Cannabis Industry?

The Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP), under Maine's Department of Administrative and Financial Services, is responsible for issuing cannabis business licenses and regulating the cannabis industry. Maine's Department of Health and Human Services once regulated the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program. However, OCP now regulates medical marijuana in the state.

Application Process

Maine follows a three-step process before awarding an adult use marijuana license:

  1. Conditional Licensure
  2. Local Authorization
  3. Active Licensure

First, you need to apply to get a conditional license by sending all forms and other required information to the Office of Cannabis Policy. After running a background check and obtaining an OMP-issued Individual Identification Card, OCP will either approve or deny your application within 90 days. The Office of Cannabis Policy will grant you a conditional license if you comply with all the requirements.

The next step is to secure a location and get approval from the local municipality to run a marijuana business. You have one year from the issuance date of your conditional license to secure a location and get approval from the municipality.

Within 10 days of getting approval from the municipality, the Office of Cannabis Policy 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?

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 in a law enforcement role, such as a police officer, sheriff prosecutor, or an employee of OCP

Can I Sell Other Products in My Dispensary?

A Maine marijuana store cannot act as a medical marijuana dispensary. A Marine marijuana store owner cannot be a caregiver while also selling recreational adult use cannabis. If you are running a marijuana dispensary, you can't sell or give away other consumable products. This includes alcohol, cigarettes, and other edible products that don't contain cannabis. You can sell cannabis products.

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 is under Section 5 of the provisionally adopted rules.

Make Sure You Are Compliant With Local Laws

The state won't issue a license unless the specific city or municipality approves the license. The law also requires cities to opt-in before dispensaries can start operating. Failure to opt-in means a city has prohibited retail sales of marijuana despite state laws. More than 90% of Maine's cities and towns do not allow the retail sale of recreational cannabis. Thus, it is important to make sure your dispensary is in a city that allows retail sales.

You should also know that cities can set their own local rules and regulations on how to regulate dispensaries.

Was Your Application Denied?

The Office of Cannabis Policy can deny your application for good cause. If that happens, the OCP gives you a reason for the denial and informs you of your right to appeal the decision. Many denials happen if the applicant had a license, permit, certificate, or other government-issued authorization issued for cultivation, manufacture, testing, or sale of marijuana in another jurisdiction revoked.

Still Have Questions?

The Maine Legislature website is a good resource for 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 is complicated and lengthy, especially in Maine, where laws constantly change. 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 compliance with local and state laws.

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Restrictive federal laws and ever-changing state laws make the marijuana industry a dynamic environment for cannabis business owners. Before you open a cannabis business, make sure it is legal in your state, and follow your state laws. Once you decide on an LLC, S-corp, or C-corp business, you can register your business entity online using DIY business formation forms.

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