In the old days, running low on gasoline and cannabis were two separate problems.
Today, however, residents of Maine can now check both items off their to-do lists in one fell swoop thanks to Atlantic Farms. Now open as Portland, Maine’s first medical cannabis store, Atlantic Farms also offers a convenience store and a gas station! As members of the team behind the business explained during a recent interview for Hall of Flowers, their state’s unique path to progress on cannabis played an important role in shaping their concept.
While Maine legalized back in 2016, no store was opened until 2020. The key difference is a seeming preference for a medical-use market over an adult-use equivalent.
The result is a cannabis market content to evolve slowly. As of now, there are over 350 medical dispensaries in Maine but only 42 active adult-use licenses – numbers that will likely shift but still suggest a populace in the state that Atlantic Farms described as “predominantly mom and pop, craft style, caregiver-sized grows and a more mature (old school) customer base.”
Taking this into account – combined with Portland’s reputation as a foodie haven – they were inspired to pair the dispensary with other small-town sensibilities like a place to get gasoline or a craft baked good. Though Atlantic Farms’ initial plan did not reportedly involve converting a gas station in a combo cannabis enterprise, it appears the opportunity was simply too good to pass up once they found it.
Atlantic Farms also abides by five stated core values: honesty, communication, innovation, compliance and integrity, with the Hall of Flowers feature further noting the operation’s “homegrown feel and farmer’s market vibes.”
“They’re proud of their community and use the storefront as an outlet to showcase the best of what the state has to offer,” it continues, “from Best Friend Farms’ flower and traditional hash-making to Atlantic Farm’s own in-house line of flower prerolls and edibles.”
In terms of what the future may hold for Atlantic Farms, they know their flower is unlikely to be in high demand in places like California or Oregon, but should federal legalization legislation successfully pass, the hope is to establish Maine flower as a staple of the East Coast options. Ideally, in places like Alabama or Ohio – geographies viewed overall as unideal for growing quality cannabis – customers could become devotees of the cannabis being cultivated in Maine.
Until then, the Atlantic Farms teams is looking forward to bringing Maine’s first licensed outdoor flower to market in conjunction with Bangor’s Firestorm Cannabis. Expect strains like Gorilla Glue, Mimosa, and Chernobyl to hit the market in the coming weeks.
There are also several other notable dispensaries across the U.S. presently looking to make a splash while also breaking the mold.
One such business is Planet 13, which the Las Vegas Sun recently dubbed “the largest marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas.” Already regarded as a tourist hot spot in Sin City, the space (which clocks in at a whopping 112,000 square feet) is now hoping to add a consumption lounge component to their operations.
As the Vegas Sun detailed, Nevada state law previously only allowed consumption of recreational cannabis products in private residences (plus one lounge on tribal land operated by the Paiute Tribe). Naturally, that didn’t stop tons of tourists from buying legal cannabis and illegally smoking on the Vegas strip, which is why it is now expected that Nevada’s first consumption lounges will open within the first half of 2022.
“There will be opportunities to have some first-in-the-nation-type lounges that other states don’t have,” Tyler Klimas, executive director of the board which oversees the industry in Nevada, told the Vegas Sun.
Kilmas further suggested that these lounges will likely exceed any vision of four walls, couches, and some loaner bongs, offering his expectation that some “experimental” ideas will be submitted as part of the lounge application process. It all speaks to a need to standout as more and more stores open in every available market.
Another notable shop on the West Coast is San Francisco’s Mission Cannabis Club.
Though the MCC itself is not a new business, the dispensary’s lavishly decorated consumption lounge — originally scheduled to open in 2020 — was at last able to finally welcome customers earlier this summer. Located up a flight of stairs from the main dispensary floor in San Francisco’s Mission District, the impressively decorated and welcoming space equates to a full-on luxury experience.
Consumers visiting MCC’s lounge can enjoy plush seating booths and unique amenities like a small corner with a set-up for playing vinyl records. The experience also comes with direct-to-table service, where customers order off the menu and have their purchases brought right to them. Built around a membership concept, other perks for those who take the plunge include stash lockers for keeping purchases safe and handy without having to lug them around.
Collectively, the efforts of places like Atlantic Farms, Planet 13, and Mission Cannabis Club speak to a desire to standout in an increasingly crowded and competitive market. Finding a way to make your dispensary special is going to be a major challenge moving forward, but as evidenced by this trio of businesses, there appear to be a number of intriguing approaches currently unfolding.