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.

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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 65,000 patients have registered for medical marijuana use in the state, and 2021 sales of medical marijuana via Maine dispensaries could be as high as $120 million.

Recreational cannabis sales began in October 2020. The number of recreational customers in Maine is estimated at about 300,000, and sales are expected to top $65 million in 2021. Adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces for recreational use, as well as up to three mature marijuana plants per person.

Cannabis business license types

Maine currently issues licenses for the following types of cannabis businesses: medical dispensaries, medical caregivers, adult-use cultivators, adult-use retailers, adult-use manufaturers, and testing labs. Medical dispensaries must grow their own cannabis, then sell it at a retail storefront. Only 14 medical dispensaries are allowed in the state, and seven licenses have already been granted. Caregivers can open a single retail store provided the municipality allows it. There is no cap on the number of statewide adult-use licenses, though localities can enact bans and restrictions.

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!

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 medical dispensary license in Maine costs $12,000. There is no application fee to be a medical caregiver. Application fees for adult use dispensaries, manufactures, and testing labs are $250, while cultivation applications range from $60 to $500 depending on size.

Renewal fees: A medical dispensary license fee is $12,000, and a medical caregiver can total as high as $1,200 depending on the size of the operation. Adult-use retailers andmanufacturers license fees are $2,500 per year, while cultivation annual licenses can be as high as $30,000. Testing labs must pay an annual $1,000 license fees.

Strict regulations: Be prepared to follow Maine’s extensive regulations, 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.) In addition, medical dispensaries must be run as not-for-profits.

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”. 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:

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