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Cannabis Marketing in Maine

Published on
February 21, 2022

Jonathan Rose is a journalist, multimedia content producer and a certified content strategist. As associate editor at the Denver Business Journal, he built the cannabis beat from the ground up while also overseeing all newsroom content surrounding the publication's awards programs.

He's helped companies — from traditional retail to ancillary cannabis — develop their brand voice while managing large, long-term projects like virtual awards programs and the Vangst Cannabis Industry Salary Guide.

Before joining the traditional press corp, Jonathan ran a small blog focused on weird music, weed and politics. His reporting saw his work featured on the "Rachel Maddow Show," and forced Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to stop using a track by Austin-based post-rock act Explosions in the Sky in a campaign video. (It's all about those small wins.)

Three media outlets I check every single day: Axios, The New York Times, Green Market Report

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Feed, play, cuddle, spoil cats

Maine voters joined California, Massachusetts and Nevada in legalizing the regulated sale of adult-use cannabis in November 2016 — but it took nearly four years for retail stores to open their doors thanks to legislative slow-walking and the rule-making process

The first recreational cannabis dispensaries opened their doors on Oct. 9, 2020, with extremely limited supply. Maine adult-use cannabis sales have since passed the $228 million mark, according to the most recent state data available

The Pine Tree State also has a unique medical market rooted in a 1999 ballot initiative approved by the voters. More than 700 medical providers and 8,000 patients are registered in Maine, according to state data. There are only eight medical dispensaries in the state, however.

Is Cannabis Legal in Maine?

Maine has also legalized the home cultivation of up to three “mature plants, 12 immature plants and an unlimited number of seedlings per resident 21 years of age or older,” while medical marijuana caregivers can maintain two cultivation areas — one for up to 60 immature plants (or up to 1,000 square feet) and another for up to 30 mature cannabis plants (or up to 500 square feet). 

Several pieces of legislation that would expunge all records of cannabis convictions for activity that would be legal under current law have been put forward and failed.

Is it Legal to Market Cannabis in Maine?

The short answer is: “Yes.” The long answer, as in most legal weed states, is: “It’s complicated.” 

The biggest concern that the state’s Office of Cannabis Policy has when it comes to advertising marijuana in Maine is ensuring that those ads don’t have “a high likelihood” of being seen by people under the age of 21, and that they’re not “designed to appeal to” people under 21, according to a 2020 memo distributed by the agency (then called the Office of Marijuana Policy).

The list of what’s not allowed in cannabis marketing in Maine is a long one, and includes many common-sense rules that likely apply to any industry. For example, cannabis companies may not promote illegal activity; be misleading or contain deceptive statements; or make claims about purported health benefits.

But there are also cannabis-specific rules surrounding advertising the plant, like not being permitted to display cannabis consumption or show activities “considered risky under the influence” such as driving or boating (or being pregnant — really). And as in many legal cannabis states, use of the word “candy” is totally off limits.

All of the regulations can be found here (beginning on Page 73), here and here (for medical).

How to Legally Market Cannabis Brands in Maine

Maine cannabis companies can advertise their brands on television, radio, in print and various other mass-distribution methods provided they are able “to produce sufficient marketing data” proving that the target audience of any advertisement is age appropriate.

Digital, social media and other online marketing strategies by cannabis companies can be utilized in Maine, but with pretty severe restrictions. Online cannabis advertising cannot be unsolicited, for one. That means, for example, that ads can only be displayed to an audience that has opted in to such advertising by liking or following the social media page of a cannabis company, or going to their website. And those websites must use age-verification techniques like those we’ve all encountered at the homepages of highly regulated companies in the alcohol, cannabis or gaming sectors.

Similarly, all location-based marketing must be targeted only at individuals 21 or older who have chosen to install cannabis-related apps on their mobile devices.

Cannabis brands are also free to make use of their owned media and content marketing channels such as blogs, websites, white papers and newsletters—or opt-in programs like text message lists.

Dispensary Marketing in Maine

There are currently 208 active adult-use cannabis retail licenses in Maine, according to the most recent state data—that means healthy competition in a state with a population that barely cracks 1 million.

While dispensaries are limited in some of the marketing strategies other brick-and-mortar businesses might deploy, one thing that cannabis brands can take advantage of is event marketing throughout the year. 

There is no shortage of calendar days to celebrate with a pre-roll or delicious edible, but certain times of the year stand out. Some 40% of the top 10 revenue-generating days fall in the dog days of summer, while 46% land between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to analysts at cannabis point-of-sale company Flowhub. No month is bigger for promotions, however, than April. That’s when dispensaries jockey for position ahead of 4/20, one of the biggest days of the year for cannabis marketing and hands down the No. 1 sales day in retail.

Cannabis Brand Marketing in Maine

How are Maine cannabis brands distinguishing themselves? Words like “boutique,” “craft” and “local” abound on Maine cannabis websites — perhaps unsurprising in a small state famous for its individualism, rugged outdoors, freshly trapped lobsters, acres of blueberries and real maple syrup.

Other retail stores — like Grass Monkey — lean into funky aesthetics and bright, creative branding that lands them earned media in unexpected national outlets. Then there are the clever names, like Pho King Great Cannabis in Bangor.

Surprisingly, we were unable to find any cannabis brands attempting to capitalize off of Maine’s horror-story reputation as created by hometown hero Stephen King. Even dispensaries in Bangor, the inspiration for King’s frequent novel setting of Derry, didn’t sell any strains named “Cujo,” “Bloody Carrie” or “Creepy Clown Cake.” 

That could be a missed opportunity in a state with a fast-recovering tourism industry generating about $9 billion in spending.

Top 10 Cannabis Brands in Maine

From Maine’s northernmost Aroostook County to the white-sand beaches down south; from Casco Bay to the Highlands; and from Kennebec Valley to the Midcoast — cannabis is thriving in Maine. Here are the top brands in the Pine Tree State.

Sweet Dirt Bridgton, Portland, Rockland, Waterville
Wellness Connection of Maine Brewer, Gardiner, Portland, South Portland
Full Bloom Cannabis Cultivator and manufacturer with one dispensary in Fort Kent and products found in Auburn, Bath, Berwick, Brunswick, Calais, Damariscotta, Gardiner, Grand Isle, Fort Kent, Waterville, Poland, Portland, Presque Isle, Rockland, Rome and South Portland
Brothers Cannabis Bath, Bangor (two locations), Brewer
Cannabis Cured Bangor, Bethel, Eliot, Fairfield, Portland, Saco, Stratton, Sugarloaf, Thomaston
Grass Monkey South Portland
Canuvo Bridgton
Botany Rockland
Maine Cannabis Exchange South Portland
Cannabis Haven Auburn (two locations)

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