While it’s highly unlikely that the state will ever be a Colorado or California from a sales and revenue standpoint, Maine offers operators numerous tourist-dense markets.
It’s been a long and winding road for full legalization in the state of Maine, but that is ending. Sales are set to begin on October 9. Maine’s ballot initiative measure to legalize marijuana for adults and establish a regulated marijuana market passed back in November 2016, along with three other states — California, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Maine is the last of those states to launch adult-use retail sales.
Marijuana has been legal for adults 21 and older to grow and share in Maine since January 30, 2017. The legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills on June 27, 2019. Maine’s adult-use marijuana regulation law can be found here.
“The delays were unfortunate and unnecessary, but in the end, we’ve succeeded in replacing prohibition with a thoughtful policy that legalizes, regulates, and taxes marijuana sales for adults 21 and over,” said Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich, one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign.
The new law states that adults 21 years of age or older with a valid ID will be able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of a combination of marijuana and marijuana concentrate that includes no more than 5 grams of marijuana concentrate. It remains illegal to consume marijuana in public spaces. Maine municipalities must opt-in to the adult-use program by locally allowing for marijuana establishments.
Brian Lauvray, Head of Development and Strategy with the cannabis consulting company MMLG has been in the state assisting companies. He said,”Maine represents a very reasonable entry point for companies looking to move to the east coast. While it’s highly unlikely that the state will ever be a Colorado or California from a sales and revenue standpoint, Maine offers operators numerous tourist-dense markets, one substantial year-round market in Portland, plus towns such as Lewiston and Bangor.”
He noted that only 10% of municipalities have opted in thus far. “Operators who get in now will have the leg up on future licensing opportunities as new markets come online in the Pine Tree State,” he added.
Lauvray also pointed out that Portland is expected to be Maine’s largest market with about 540,000 in the metro area and that once the program gets established it will serve as a waypoint for tourists going further “down east.” “It really will be a win for any operators looking to gain an east coast foothold. However, Portland applicants will almost certainly miss the deadline for state licenses being awarded starting next month in advance of recreational sales opening on 10/9.” (Portland’s city application deadline is 8/31.)
In addition to just making the license deadline, Lauray said that when state licenses begin to be handed out in September and the official date for rec-use sales opening, there’s a possibility that many retailers may have limited supplies for consumers initially. “So, for consumers, operators and investors, a hefty spoonful of “expectation management” may be the order for this fall. But in the long term, Maine will be a healthy market.”
Wellness Connection of Maine (WCM), the state’s largest medical cannabis provider launched HighNorth, a Maine-centric lifestyle brand designed to meet the future needs of Maine’s recreational cannabis market. WCM created HighNorth to bridge the transition between Maine’s existing medical market and the future adult-use market.