The State of Cannabis Legislation & Licensing: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts

Cannabis Business Licensing in Maine

Manufacturers of cannabis products and other entrepreneurs in the industry face a constant evolution of new products and scientific advancements. If they want to retain and expand their customer base, these entrepreneurs need to adapt to technological and legal advancements in the industry. In cannabis, each market is controlled by the state where it operates, so legal advancements and their impacts vary widely from state to state.

Below is a compiled update of marijuana legislation and cannabis business licensing in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Maine Cannabis Business Licensing

Medical Maine cannabis business licensing holders are concerned about proposed new rules. This worry was expressed in a public meeting on September 26, 2023, where those connected to the industry said the proposed laws would increase the difficulty of operating in a market that directly competes with recreational sales. Said new rules cover security requirements for retail stores, such as fencing and video footage retention, as well as an expansion of the state’s ability to issue fines, which include:

  • Up to $7,500 for each major registration violation affecting public safety
  • Up to $3,000 for each major registration violation
  • Up to $3,000 for each minor registration violation

Mark Barnett, policy director of the Maine Craft Cannabis Association, stated “These changes overall are new obstacles to doing business. For those interested in new cannabis business licensing in Maine, ensure review of these proposed amendments.”

Cannabis Business Licensing New Hampshire

Getting New Hampshire cannabis business licensing takes patience, as the state commission charged with drafting a bill to legalize sales is making slow progress. Some areas being discussed are personal possession limits, gifting and penalties for publicly smoking or vaping.

In addition to the line-by-line review of the draft legislation, commission members recently heard testimony from two testing lab representatives who discussed how and why cannabis products should be screened for pesticides and heavy metals. This legislation could pass the House and Senate in 2024, after Gov. Chris Sununu announced in May that he would support a cannabis legalization model with state-controlled retail sales.

In October, the New Hampshire Cannabis Association released the results of a survey that suggests interest among some New Hampshire farmers is high. The survey found 87 percent of respondents support legalization in general, and 78 percent “expressed interest” in growing cannabis if it were legalized.

Vermont Cannabis Business Licensing

Currently, applications for larger Vermont cannabis business licensing are indefinitely closed off. Beginning November 24, Tier 4 indoor cultivation licenses and Tiers 4 and 5 outdoor or mixed cultivation licenses will not be accepted, with the state goal of shaping a healthy cannabis market. Cannabis Control Board (CCB) Executive Director Brynn Hare called the proportion of cultivators renewing licenses “pretty consistent” with the proportion of current cultivation licenses issued, as the board issued a total of 392 cultivation licenses, with 305 being small cultivators and 274 being outdoor or mixed.

For current holders of Vermont cannabis business licensing, the state has something for you. In an effort to keep cannabis out of reach of children, Vermont is distributing free, lockable storage bags. The Department of Health and CCB have launched a pilot project offering these bags to hold cannabis products and other substances. Around 3,000 bags have been delivered to select cannabis stores, where they are available on request and without purchase necessary. “It’s critical that we safely store all potentially harmful substances, but especially edibles that could appeal to children, like gummies or chocolates,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine said recently. “These lockable bags make it harder for children to access and consume these products, potentially preventing a trip to the emergency room.”

Cannabis Business Licensing Massachusetts

On October 27, 2023, historic new recreational and medical cannabis rules took effect. In an effort to establish equality within the industry, changes include:

  • New municipal equity requirements
  • Suitability reform
  • New designation of Social Equity Businesses for Massachusetts cannabis business licensing

These changes are much anticipated for those looking to apply for Massachusetts cannabis business licensing. A report conducted by Marijuana Business Daily has shown that Massachusetts marijuana business ownership has less racial and gender diversity than the national industry average and, unlike the other states studied, the situation in Massachusetts is getting worse. The study shows racial minorities make up 14.4 percent of the cannabis business ownership in 2023, compared to the national figure of 18.7 percent. Further, Massachusetts is falling behind in terms of gender equality; women make up 10.3 percent of cannabis business ownership in the commonwealth, compared to the national figure of 16.4 percent.

Another area of opportunity is nearing finalization, as regulators are in final review of cannabis cafes. The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) spent the summer in public hearings listening to concerns about social consumption licenses. However, business owners are ready. “We legalized cannabis and didn’t give anybody a place to actually smoke,” said former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, who now owns Apex Noire. “Our objective would be to prepare and have a chef-guided menu, just as many other parts of our society, to really normalize cannabis,” Jackson told WBZ TV.

Connect with the best at CannaCon and Get the Details on Maine Cannabis Business Licensing and More!

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This article was originally posted on June 25, 2019. It was updated on November 14, 2023.


  1. Nancy Anne parry on August 17, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    If Iam not a maine resident and live in New Hampshire can I buy it with out a card

    • Katy Robbart on April 8, 2024 at 9:52 am

      I want to open up a Cannabis Cafe in New Hampshire does everyone have to have a card to get in?

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