This is a question I’ve been asking myself since before I came here.
Why is it moving so slow?
It’s like, c’mon Maine. What is the hold-up?
I got the scoop last night at a cannabis mixer hosted by 420ME and held at Cloudport CoWorking on Federal Street in Portland. David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project gave an update and provided a one-sheet of info for people to follow along and take home. There was also free wine, beer and pizza. Lots of pizza (including the amazing bacon and mashed potato) straight from Otto Pizza.
So, basically, in 2016 Maine voters passed Question 1, which made marijuana legal and established regulations for the commercial sale of marijuana. Since that passage, the Maine legislature has made changes to the initiative that Maine voters passed. In May 2018, LD 1719, “An Act to Implement a Regulator Structure for Adult Use Marijuana” became law after the Maine Legislature overrode Gov. LePage’s veto.
“We have a law, now it’s up to the state to implement the law,” Boyer says. And while the governor’s term (thankfully) expires in November, this next gubernatorial race is important in getting the adult use market rolling.
It will be hugely important for people to bring their passion for this to their desks, otherwise, they won’t likely make it a significant issue on their platform, Boyer says. Trump, however, brought some good news for the industry, despite the shit show of leadership he has illustrated: he supports a bill that allows states to set policy, which would effectively end prohibition.
Boyer encouraged the attendees to talk to elected officials in support of the bill, aptly called The States Act, to move it forward. The act was filed at the beginning of June by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts — where recreational pot sales start on July 1 (and where many tourists will likely be taking their spending dollars) — and Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, which in 2012 became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.
But back to Maine. Here’s how the law breaks down:
- Adults 21 and older may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or marijuana products. (This is actually higher than other states, which limit possession to one ounce, Boyer says.) When it comes to marijuana concentrate, the possession limit is no more than five grams (which is more than a handful of cartridges, I am told)
- Adults 21 and older may grow up to three flowering marijuana plants, 12 immature marijuana plants and unlimited seedlings. Individuals can grow where they live, on property they own, or on someone else’s property with permission.
Here’s the kicker: Applicants for commercial marijuana licenses must be Maine residents and have filed residential income taxes for four years prior to date of the application until June 2021, then this requirement is repealed. Officers, managers and directors must be Maine residents and majority owners.
Mainers can apply for one or multiple licenses:
Retail marijuana license
- There is no statewide cap on licenses; however, retail stores must be authorized by municipalities.
- Entities cannot own more than four retail stores, until 2022 when this cap is repealed.
- No drive-through sales, internet sales, or deliveries.
- Medical and adult-use stores cannot collocate within the same building.
Marijuana cultivation license
- Again, no statewide cap on the number of cultivators or canopy size (The term canopy is defined as “the surface area utilized to produce mature plants calculated in square feet and measured using the outside boundaries of any area that includes mature marijuana plants including all of the space within the boundaries.”), cultivators must get permission from municipalities.
- Four cultivation tiers:
- Tier 1 – up to 30 mature plants or 500 sq ft of plant canopy
- Tier 2 – up to 2,000 sq ft of plant canopy
- Tier 3 – up to 7,000 sq ft of plant canopy
- Tier 4 – up to 20,000 sq ft of plant canopy
- Medical and adult-use marijuana may be cultivated in the same facility
Other licenses include: nursery cultivation facility, testing facility and marijuana product manufacturer.
Make sure you have a good accountant who knows how to deal with 280E and compliance because cannabusinesses face huge tax liabilities. Dispensary owners more than cultivators. There will be a 20 percent effective total tax rate in Maine, a 10 percent sales tax at the point of sale and a 10 percent excise tax at $335/pound for flower.
Boyer says people who want to get into the cannabis business have to be “dynamic, nimble and willing to change on the dime.” He adds, “Cannabis isn’t for wimps and neither is the cannabis industry.”