opening a dispensary in maine

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How to Open a Dispensary in Maine

January 12, 2023

This article is for those seeking information and guidelines on how to open a dispensary in Maine. As always, we have tried to provide you with all the necessary steps to help you with your start in the cannabis industry in Maine. Let’s start with cannabis legalization chronologically. 

In 1999 Maine legalized medical marijuana. On November 8, 2016, Maine voters joined a growing number of states that have legalized recreational use and retail sales. Governor LePage vetoed this law in 2018, but it was overcome in early May of the same year. Adult use cannabis sales started in October 2020. According to May 2022, the sales during the year reached about $52m with roughly 778 thousand sales transactions. 

How to Get a Dispensary License in Maine

Here are the steps if you want to know how to get a dispensary license in Maine:

You must first submit an application for a conditional license and other necessary documents to the Department. The agency will issue you a conditional license if you meet all the requirements after conducting a background check and ensuring you have completed all the required paperwork. The next stage is to obtain county or provincial approval to run your marijuana dispensary. After your conditional license is issued, you have one year to find a place and obtain the municipality’s permission. 

Remember that a conditional license does not give you permission to open a dispensary. You need an active license before starting your cannabis business in Maine. 

To go into more detail about the necessary license applications to start your marijuana business, they are: 

Conditional Licensure

Each license applicant will need to get an OMP-issued Individual Identification Card, and all applicants will be required to submit to a criminal background records check (IIC). The OMP will either reject the license application or grant a one-year, non-renewable conditional license within 90 days of receiving all application materials and required attachments.

Local Authorization

All holders of conditional licenses must apply for local approval from the municipality where they are doing business to qualify for an active license. The municipality will have 90 days to decide on the request, after which it will transmit a signed local authorisation form to the OMP. The OMP will ask for extra information and updated paperwork from the applicant within ten days of receiving a local permission form that has been accepted.  

Active Licensure

To issue an active license, additional information is needed, such as relevant tax information and documentation, as well as proof of compliance with all electrical and permitting requirements. OMP will send the applicant a license fee invoice after it is determined that all conditions have been satisfied. OMP will issue an active license with a one-year validity after receiving payment.

Additionally, the following types of business owners are not allowed to apply for a license:

  • A person who has been found guilty of breaking a federal or state controlled substance law. The offense must be penalized by a year or more in prison;
  • A person who previously had their license revoked;
  • A person who has worked as a state licensing authority official, a sheriff prosecutor, or a police officer. 

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Dispensary in Maine?

Applicants must pay applicable dispensary fees to the Department at the time of submission. Two fees must be paid. 1) An application fee of $250 must be submitted before an application can be processed. 2) After a dispensary has been approved for a license, the annual fee for a cannabis retailer is $2,500 (depending on your municipality, but it doesn’t exceed $2,500). 

Sales limitations and operational restrictions for marijuana stores are as follows:

  • They are not allowed to sell more marijuana to a single person at a time or in a single day than two and one-half ounces of marijuana; or two and one-half ounces of marijuana and marijuana concentrate that includes no more than five grams of marijuana concentrate;
  • May not sell marijuana or services to someone who is obviously under the influence;
  • May not run a medicinal marijuana dispensary or serve as a primary caregiver at the same place as an establishment selling marijuana for recreational use;
  • Medical marijuana dispensaries and primary caregivers can sell mature plants and seeds to adult-use cultivation facilities for two years after these facilities are first licensed. 

How Much Does a Marijuana Dispensary in Maine Make? 

Dispensaries that sell marijuana can be pretty prosperous. A dispensary frequently earns $50,000 to millions of dollars annually. Additionally, earning tens of millions of dollars is not unheard of.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Maine

As of June 6, 2019, medical cannabis patients visiting Maine from other jurisdictions are no longer required to obtain certification from a Maine-based medical provider or to designate a registered caregiver or dispensary to obtain medical cannabis.

A cap on business licenses no longer exists.

The applications consist of three parts:

  1. Business application.
  2. Local authorization.
  3. Inherently hazardous substances authorization.

The application fee is $5,000 for each dispensary.

This is the first part of a two-part effort that also adds medical marijuana caregiver applications. Registered caregivers have the option to upgrade their registration to a dispensary type. 

If caregivers choose not to take that route, the state has added renewal caregiver applications to the state’s online licensing system for the first time.

Unlike registered caregivers, dispensaries are allowed to grow an unlimited amount of marijuana plants. 

What’s the Difference Between a Medical Cannabis Caregiver and a Dispensary?

The caregiver model places the patient first and usually offers higher-quality care. In Maine, caregivers have frequently spoken up for the patients’ rights. The caregiver’s method is more consultative and patient-specific. 

How to Stay Compliant in Maine

In order to record their sales to state regulators, all licensed dispensaries in Maine are required to use the Metrc Track and Trace system. A point-of-sale system completely integrated with Metrc and tailored to your dispensary can automate this process. 

IndicaOnline is an all-in-one compliant solution for dispensaries that will help you to comply with Maine compliance requirements by integrating Metrc. The software will track your business operations and help state officials monitor marijuana from cultivation to consumer sales. 

Using IndicaOnline software, you never have to be concerned about all the restrictions and regulations your state sets. IndicaOnline receives all the new requirements directly from Metrc and adjusts your operations straight without you lifting a finger. 

Implementing a POS system that can automate state reporting is the first step in maintaining compliance in your dispensary in Maine. To ensure compliance, you must keep track of your inventory, enforce purchasing restrictions, and confirm that all your customers are of legal age. The system is designed to help you through it all and more. 

IndicaOnline offers you a variety of benefits and supports you with a powerful asset for your dispensary, and serves as a prerequisite for fully developing and growing your marijuana business. Be competitive and compliant using IndicaOnline’s point of sale, inventory management, and mobile solutions in Maine!

How to Find the Right Location to Open a Dispensary in Maine

You should also know the following if you want to know how to open a dispensary in Maine. Only communities with adopted ordinances authorizing this marijuana business are allowed to open cannabis shops. Town or county commissioners must permit a marijuana business can operate in a town, a plantation, or an unincorporated region.

Unless the municipality decides to impose a narrower buffer zone, which must be at least 500 feet in size, cannabis establishments may not be situated within 1,000 feet of an existing school.

Security Requirements for Dispensaries in Maine

Applicants must also submit a cannabis dispensary security plan and anticipate being subject to a high level of safety once their doors open, among many other restrictions. We’ll go over the security standards for marijuana dispensaries in Maine.

The first mandated condition for dispensaries in Maine is that access points have enough lighting for at least 10 feet of view, both for passing traffic and the recording of security cameras.

Additionally, a dispensary must have high-security locks on all outside doors and entrances leading to restricted-access rooms for staff members only. 

All perimeter doors and windows in dispensaries must have sensors. A certified security provider must be in charge of monitoring this alarm system.

All entry and exit points inside and outside our dispensaries must be equipped with video cameras. Both exterior and interior doors leading to restricted access and employee-only areas are included. Everyone entering the building must be clearly identifiable in your video footage.

The Current Cannabis Climate in Maine

One of the first states on the East Coast to legalize recreational marijuana was Maine, where the cannabis business is prospering. Maine began accepting applications for licenses to operate recreational cannabis businesses four years ago. Cannabis consumers and business owners continue to have high expectations for Maine’s cannabis industry.

The surveys predict that by 2024, Maine’s recreational cannabis businesses will generate $275 million to $325 million in annual sales. The Northeast region has a lot of promise for cannabis enterprises, as seen by the dispensaries’ more than $420 million in sales during the first full year of the recreational marijuana industry in Massachusetts.

Cannabis is surpassing lobsters on Maine’s economic ladder. Cannabis is currently the third most popular item sold in the state, only behind lobsters and potatoes. Maine residents spent more than $111.6 million on legal marijuana in 2019. According to the Portland Press Herald, that is more than the combined sales of blueberries, maple syrup, apples, herring, and oysters. 


A marijuana business can be difficult and time-consuming to launch, particularly in Maine, where laws are continually changing; this is true. Additionally, your business concept and structure will be impacted by the fact that marijuana remains illegal on a federal level. Though being well informed about how to open a dispensary in Maine means that half of the business is done. 

To stay informed on where the industry stands with regard to cannabis legalization, be sure to also look at Maine Marijuana Laws.

If you hesitate to step into this complex industry in Maine, feel free to reach out! We are here for you whenever you need to give you all the information and guidelines for operating a cannabis business in the state and being compliant with state laws.