Maine communities support adult-use marijuana businesses, divided on retail

A sankey diagram showing how municipalities opted in for adult use marijuana retail, cultivation, manufacturing and testing.

Support for the adult-use marijuana industry in Maine is strong, especially cultivation, despite a divide over allowing retail shops in some municipalities.

This comes at a time when cannabis has emerged as Maine’s most valuable crop, overtaking more mainstream farm products such as potatoes, hay and blueberries.

Maine towns and townships can opt into the state program by allowing licenses in four business categories – retail, cultivation, manufacturing and testing – or opt out to become a “dry town.”

Of the 55 municipalities that have passed rules to regulate adult-use marijuana businesses, 29% opted out of retail sales, according to the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy.

No community so far banned adult-use cannabis businesses completely, with retail-shy communities still supporting other types of MJ operators.

Map showing where Maine's communities opted out of retail, cultivation, manufacturing and testing businesses

Map showing where Maine's communities opted out of retail, cultivation, manufacturing and testing businesses

Cultivation has the strongest support, with 95% of Maine’s municipalities approving adult-use marijuana growing businesses – not surprising for a state with a strong, but declining, agriculture industry.

The number of farms in Maine shrank by almost 8% between 2012 and 2017, according to the latest U.S Department of Agriculture survey.

Marijuana agriculture might be the solution.

Marijuana has become the state’s biggest cash crop, according to the Portland Press Herald.

The USDA estimated Maine’s potato crop to be worth $184.1 million in 2019.

Medical marijuana easily eclipsed that figure this year with a reported $221.8 million sold through October.

Add the millions now coming in monthly through the newly opened recreational program, and it is no longer a competition.

Maine’s adult-use market brought in $2.4 million in sales since opening in October 2020.

Manufacturing and testing businesses were also well supported throughout the state.

Maine municipalities that supported adult-use retail generally also supported cultivation, manufacturing and testing businesses in their communities.

Only one locale – Newry, a sparsely populated town located on the New Hampshire border – allowed just retail establishments.

Of those not allowing retail shops, almost 44% also decided against manufacturing.

That number climbed to 50% when they considered testing.

Kennebunk, a costal town just south of Portland, was the only community to prohibit everything but testing.

Andrew Long can be reached at [email protected]

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