Maine Cannabis Startup Guide

Starting a cannabis company in Maine? We’ve put together a state-specific guide covering everything from available license types to fees, regulations, and what you should include in a Maine cannabis business plan. Jump to a section by clicking below, or go straight to our sample cannabis business plan.
Maine medical and recreational cannabis business startup guide and planning banner

Click to jump to a topic:

Cannabis license types
Fees and other barriers to entry
Are cannabis business plans required in Maine?
What to include in a business plan
How to research city regulations
Helpful links
Get expert help

Overview of legal cannabis in Maine

Recreational and medical marijuana are both legal in Maine. Patients with a written recommendation from a doctor can possess up to 2.5 ounces of prepared cannabis. More than 41,800 patients have registered for medical marijuana use in the state, and 2018 sales of medical marijuana via Maine dispensaries could be as high as $25 million.

The number of recreational customers in Maine is estimated at about 140,000. Adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces for recreational use, as well as up to six marijuana plants per person. However, Maine regulators are still figuring out cannabis laws, which will be finalized in April 2019, and recreational sales are unlikely to begin until early 2019.

Cannabis business license types

Maine currently issues licenses for only one type of cannabis business: not-for-profit dispensaries. Dispensaries must grow their own cannabis, then sell it at a retail storefront. Only eight medical dispensaries are allowed in the state, and all eight licenses have already been granted. However, there is not yet a cap on recreational dispensaries or cultivators, and they are allowed to be for-profit.

There are plenty of other ways to be part of the booming cannabis industry as well. You can create a marijuana app, payment processing service, advertising agency, consulting firm, pest management product, accounting firm, automated plant watering system, security service, packaging labeling service, or legal firm--and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Maine medical and recreational marijuana business plan facts callout.

Fees and other barriers to entry

In Maine, local governments can forbid cannabis companies or certain locations, so check city and county regulations.

Application fees: Applying for a cannabis business license in Maine costs $15,000.

Renewal fees: It’s $15,000 to renew your cannabis business license in Maine.

Strict regulations: Be prepared to follow Maine’s extensive regulations (at least for medical cannabis companies), including having a video security system and six-foot security fence, only seeing dispensary customers by appointment, obtaining a food establishment license in order to sell tinctures or edibles, and more. (Full rules here.)

Do you need a cannabis business plan in Maine?

A business plan is required to get a medical marijuana business license in Maine--see page 36 here. And if you plan on raising funding from investors, you definitely need a business plan.

What to include in your business plan

Here’s what an Maine marijuana business plan should include:
  • Product/service description: Will you run a recreational dispensary or grow operation, a cannabis consulting firm, or something else? What’s unique about your business? Be as specific as you can. If you’ll open a medical marijuana dispensary, Maine requires you to specify which strains of flower you’ll sell, for which medical conditions, and which forms marijuana will be sold in.

  • Market research: If you’re opening a dispensary, how many people live within five miles? If you’ll wholesale flower or edibles for recreational use, how many dispensaries will you sell to? If you’re creating an app, who will be the user base, and why would they use your app instead of someone else’s? Use concrete numbers verified by a third party whenever possible (instead of estimates).

  • Competitors: Who will you compete with, both directly and indirectly? What do they do well and poorly? What is their online reputation? How will you differentiate your company?

  • Management team: Summarize your qualifications and those of others on your management team. Maine also wants to know that you have enough board members in case one of them leaves or you need to fire one of your executives.

  • Financials: Maine requires “a detailed description about the amount and source of the equity and debt commitment” for each dispensary, proving it’s financially feasible. The state also wants to know that your funds for capital and operating needs are available and that you have the “financial capability” to start and successfully run a dispensary. Maine also requires three-year financial projections--specifically, income statements. You must also indicate employee salaries, which should be consistent with other nonprofits, as well as how you’ll distribute net revenues every year.

  • Maine-specific requirements: If not included elsewhere in your application, you should include whether you will accept excess marijuana from caregivers and patients who grow it themselves, how you will test it to ensure quality, and how you’ll distribute it to patients without selling it.

  • Investor proposal: If you are presenting your plan to investors, how are you valuing the shares? Consult with your attorney to make sure you are within state and federal compliance. Sometimes, you’ll need your attorney to draw up an offering memorandum, often called a private placement memorandum (PPM). A PPM informs potential investors on the details of the investment vehicle (your company) and potential risks associated with the investment.
How to research city regulations

Google your city or municipality name and “cannabis regulations” or “marijuana laws” (here’s some info for Portland). If your city or municipality’s website doesn’t have information about cannabis, check recent local news coverage or contact your city clerk, city manager, or town hall.

Helpful Links
Get expert help

Confused or overwhelmed yet? That’s normal. With such a highly regulated industry, and one with different rules in every state, starting a cannabis company can be very complex. Get help with your cannabis business plan from Masterplans, the industry leaders. We’ve worked with hundreds of cannabis entrepreneurs like yourself to create investor-ready documents and presentations so you can not only meet regulations but get the funding you need. Click below for your free, confidential consultation:
Get my free consultation now