Updates on Marijuana Establishment Licensing in Maine

November 4th, 2019, Adult-use, Cannabis Law, Licensing, Local/Municipal, Regulatory, Retail, State

Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy (“OMP”) announced today that it will begin accepting testing facility license applications on November 18, 2019.  All adult use marijuana products will need to meet testing standards before they are put on the shelves. Accordingly, OMP has made it clear that providing sufficient access to testing is a priority.

License applications for cultivation facilities, products manufacturing facilities, and retail stores will follow on December 5th. This is the date that Maine’s adult use marijuana program rule will go into effect.

OMP will have up to 90 days to review or deny the application for a conditional license once all materials, including results of the background check, have been received.  The applicant may then use the conditional license to seek local authorization from a municipality.  Signoff from a particular municipality is required in order to obtain an active state license and begin operating.  

Why Neighbors Can Decide the Fate of a Marijuana Business

Maine is an “opt-in” state, meaning a municipality must affirmatively take action to adopt an ordinance or warrant article addressing adult use marijuana.  If it doesn’t, then adult use marijuana businesses are prohibited within the municipality’s borders.

The ordinance or warrant article must expressly allow for each particular category of marijuana establishment in order to issue local authorization for that type of license.  Municipalities may decide to prohibit some types of businesses and allow others.  For example, some municipalities may choose to prohibit marijuana retail stores, but will allow cultivation, manufacturing, and testing.

In many communities, the opt-in process requires that individual residents come out and vote to allow these businesses.  Even in larger municipalities that have city or town councils, elected officials must take diverse perspectives into account when drafting and adopting a marijuana ordinance.  

Only 5% of municipalities in Maine will allow adult use marijuana establishments in the near term.  While the issue is up for a vote in a smattering of towns in the coming months, local authorization poses a significant obstacle for licensing.   

Many Maine municipalities that opted in established limited zones where marijuana establishments can be located, which further reduces viable real estate options. Licensees will need to comply with all local requirements in addition to OMP’s requirements, including any additional performance standards or payment of local licensing fees.  

Preparing for State and Local Licensing

Our attorneys are available to guide businesses through both the state and local licensing processes in Maine.  If you would like more information about these services, please reach out to Mary Kennedy at mkennedy@dwmlaw.com.