How to open a Dispensary in Maine

Maine was one of the states that legalized the recreational use of marijuana in November 2016 ballot, albeit by a narrow vote. Licensed dispensaries should be registered as non-profits and priority is given to registered caretakers and existing dispensary owners (medical cannabis in Maine has been legal for 17 years).

Right now, only citizens of the state are eligible to apply to start a marijuana dispensary in Maine. Municipalities have the right to reject, ban, or place moratoriums on licensed dispensaries if they don’t comply with local laws. Therefore, prospective business owners should use due diligence and contact the authorities before applying for a marijuana business license. That said, the law is currently being drafted and won’t be finalized before February 2018.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Maine from as early as 1999, by a majority vote of Ballot Question 2 on November 2nd of that year. The law was modified for improvements ten years later, clearing the path for a dispensary system to be set up in the state.

When was cannabis made legal
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Under the new regulations, enacted on November 8th, 2016, Maine now allows recreational marijuana businesses.

The regulations of this measure have provisions for:

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

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    How many dispensaries are there in the state

    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 marijuana dispensary who have been registered with the state under the Maine Medical Marijuana Use Act.

    Profits of the cannabis industry in Maine

    For 2016, medical sales have reached $52,200,000, while projected profits are actually expected to drop to around $35,500,000 by 2021, likely due to the incoming legality of recreational marijuana. On the other hand, 2021 adult use sales are expected to skyrocket to $126,200,000 in total.

    Profits of the cannabis industry in Maine
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    Dispensary Owner requirements

    Potential business owners are allowed to open retail marijuana stores in Maine, but this depends entirely on the location they will choose. The state allows local municipalities to ban businesses or revoke marijuana business licenses if they feel they have valid grounds to do so.

    License requirements

    Municipalities reserve the right to impose zoning restrictions on all retail marijuana businesses, be it delivery or dispensary. They can also regulate the location and operation of all retail marijuana establishments and social clubs. Additionally, they can impose additional licensing 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 businesses must be a partnership, association, company, corporation, LLC or organization. If the applicant is 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.

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

    Financial requirements

    Financial requirements
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    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

    How much does a marijuana dispensary in Maine make?

    Marijuana dispensaries can be quite profitable. It is common for a dispensary to make anywhere from $50,000 a year up to millions. Making tens of millions of dollars is also not unheard of.


    The amount of time needed to launch a marijuana business can vary greatly. It can depend 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.

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      Looking to start a marijuana dispensary in Maine? These companies can help you navigate the licensing requirements and get your business up and running.

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