B&W JUNE: This Just In



+East Coast Cannabis Brings Rec to York County

Just over the New Hampshire line in Eliot, East Coast Cannabis was preparing its grand opening as Memorial Day approached, just waiting on a final stamp of approval. When that comes, their temporary retail storefront will be the southern-most adult rec shop in Maine, a placeholder for a much larger operation that will soon begin construction. 

When everything shakes out, said CEO Dana Brearly as part of a tour of the still-under-construction shop and 5,000-square-foot grow facility across the street, ECC will have a permanent retail location that fronts 15,000 square feet of grow operations. 

For this reporter, the walk-through of the grow facility and commercial kitchen (the virgin dark chocolate cubes were tasty) was a first in a recreational environment, and it’s clear regulations in this arena require considerable compliance activity, from the booties and hairnets we all had to don to the blue, bar-coded tags attached to every plant in the facility. 

Brearly: “Can you believe those are 50 cents each?” It could certainly add up. 

On this day, the “mothers” room was being allowed to flower, having produced their fair share of clones and at the end of their useful growing lives. Their trunks were the size of a fist. Across the hall, early clones get their start under LEDs, while down at the end, two doors open into high-pressure sodium-lit rooms with robust, flowering plants, all anchored in white cubes and fed via digitally responsive watering lines, tuned to each strain’s needs. 

It’s a slick operation (COO James Folan, off doing other things at that moment, leads the science) that culminates in a darkened drying room where plants hang in tiers, leaves still attached, and a trimming room where Brearly opens a vacuum-sealed bag filled with Mimosa, an air of citrus wafting out, like summer sunshine. The buds are tightly trimmed in small nuggets, the result of hand-trimming that can get through about a pound per day, per person. 

Waiting for an opening-day go-ahead, ECC has a ton dried flower piled up and ready to go, a conversion from five years of wholesale-only medical business. From the jump, they’ll be able to supply their retail operation almost exclusively with their own grow, and hope the larger grow facility will eventually supply three retail shops, with added spots in Kittery and Lebanon, doing their best to grab out-of-state business and relying heavily on the Maine brand — the current retail space is full of Maine trail books, lobster-claw bowls by local ceramic artist Matthew Leggett and Blue Moose Casting, even a Maine-shaped cribbage board. 

CFO Ryan Ward gives marketing head Rebecca Lever credit for that last one, showing off a space missing only the actual cannabis products. 

They are clearly eager to open, that final go-ahead due any day now, and for a new era in East Coast Cannabist to begin.


+A Shot with a Beer Back

As Maine’s effort to get its population vaccinated and back to enjoying summer continues, kudos to places like Cushnoc Brewing for stepping up and helping out. On June 4, the Augusta brewery held a vaccine clinic with Waldo County General Hospital, where attendees could grab themselves a Johnson & Johnson shot and be rewarded with a cold pint of their choice — after waiting 15 minutes to make sure everything’s well.

With the hospital just down the road, and looking to reach that younger demographic that has yet to fully embrace the vaccination effort, trying to grab folks on a Friday night looking for a pop after work just makes sense.


+Two New Breweries Open Downeast

While most of the heat is in cannabis at the moment, weed joints aren’t the only grand openings Maine is seeing right now. In Eastport, Horn Run Brewing opened in May, right on the water (does every Downeast town have a Water Street?), and in a classic brick building, built out for the brewery. Owned and operated by Jeff and Lisa Smith, they came out of the gate with a solid variety that includes a Belgian Whitbier with orange and coriander, a pair of IPAs, a red and a blueberry, even a pineapple-flavored hard seltzer. 

Not bad for week two. 

A bit farther down the road, Machias voters in May voted 51-18 to provide a community block development grant for Bad Little Brewing Company, a nano brewery and farm-to-table restaurant that will sit at 101 Court Street in the Clark Perry House. Owners Kathryn Toppan and Shawn Lent are both teachers in Southern Maine who’ve uprooted and decided to pursue a passion for brewing and cooking a bit farther north. 

Look for a tap room to open in August and full operations to begin in the fall. It’s a lot of work. Their building is on the historic register and may have good bones, but has been standing since 1868, and was purchased out of foreclosure.


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