On November 8, 2016, Maine voters narrowly passed Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act, a ballot initiative authorizing the adult use of marijuana.
• Applications for Maine’s recreational cannabis market were planned to be released February 2018, but may be delayed until July. Governor LePage may even delay the program until 2019.
• When the program moves forward, the number of dispensary licenses would increase from eight to fourteen.
• Maine Medical Use of Marijuana (Official Website)
• Presentation: Maine’s plans for Marijuana Legalization
• Maine Municipal Association (Marijuana Resources)
Note that fees are intended to cover the revenue required to set up the licensing and enforcement operations of the department.
Retail Marijuana Licenses:
• Dispensary Store
• Cultivation Facility
• Products Manufacturing Facility
• Testing Facility
• Social Club
The licenses will be regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
The Marijuana Legalization Act also authorizes up to 6 flowering marijuana plants and 12 immature plants grown at home.
Local Jurisdictions Must Approve Retail Marijuana Businesses
Municipalities may impose zoning restrictions for all retail marijuana businesses. They may also regulate the location and operation of all retail marijuana establishments and social clubs. They may in addition impose a separate local licensing requirement, if it chooses to do so, and this may include a mandatory public hearing.
Number of licenses available
The ballot initiative prohibits the state from limiting the total number of retail marijuana stores, but allows municipal oversight. Municipalities may regulate the number of retail marijuana stores. They may also regulate the location and operation of all retail marijuana establishments, including social clubs, and may ban any type of retail marijuana establishment or social club.
The state may limit the retail marijuana cultivation, either by placing a cap or by limiting the amount of production permitted (such as based on previous month’s sales). The state is limited to a total of 800,000 square feet of plant canopy, unless increased at a later date, with at least 40% of licensees cultivating 3,000 square feet of canopy or less. The most a single licensee may cultivate is 30,000 square feet. If a licensee does not use its full cultivation space within a year, its allocated space may be reduced.
The ballot initiative prioritizes a compliance-based approach, but imposes competition in the event of more applications being received than are allowed. Medical marijuana caregivers and applicants who have cultivated in compliance with Maine’s law for at least two years will receive priority. The municipality’s preferences for licensure will be considered in the event of deciding between qualified applicants.
The ballot initiative does not prohibit applicants from operating more than one marijuana establishment, unless there is another qualified applicant who does not already have another establishment of the same type.
Applicant Qualifications for Maine Retail Marijuana Businesses
Applicants may include:
• Natural person, partnership, association, company, corporation, LLC or organization
• Natural person means a citizen of the State who has a verifiable social security number
Applicants must be at least 21 years of age. If the Applicant is a corporation, all board members must be natural persons and be at least 21 years of age.
Drug convictions punishable for 5 years or more may disqualify applicants. If 10 years have passed since the sentence was completed, it should not be an obstacle.
Priority will be given to registered caregivers or applicants with experience as a principal officer or board member under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, if they have been in good standing for 2 years by the date of application.
Applicants must also have evidence of site control in order to apply.
• January 30, 2017 – Ballot Initiative Question 1 (adult use) takes effect
• November 8, 2016 – Maine voters narrowly pass Question 1, authorizing the adult use of marijuana
• July 2010 – Maine authorizes the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries
• November 3, 2009 – Maine voters pass Question 5, authorizing medical marijuana cultivation and distribution