Cannabis is legal in Maine and now there’s a museum about it

A new cannabis museum in Portland aims to build an immersive exhibit that will focus on how the prohibition of cannabis has affected the cultivation of the plant.

The nonprofit museum, called Core, is tied to Portland’s newest adult cannabis dispensary, Seed.

“We want the museum’s mission to reflect the internal makeup of the dispensary’s business,” company founder and CEO April Arrasate told Mainebiz.

The museum is in rented space at 555 Congress St. and the dispensary is next door at 553 Congress St., both in Portland’s Arts District.

Anthony Donovan of Spectrum Real Estate represented the tenants in the transaction.

The 555 Congress St. location was once home to a restaurant called Five Fifty-Five, which closed in 2020 after 17 years in business but reopened this year as 555 North inside the Federal, a new hotel at 10 Water St. in Brunswick.

Seed and Core’s mission includes majority female ownership, a diverse investor base, and social justice.

Courtesy / Spectrum Real Estate

In Portland’s Arts District, a new cannabis dispensary and museum are on a mission for social justice.

Originally from Connecticut, Arrasate is an attorney with a background in biotechnology.

She became interested in the medical use of cannabis after helping her mother, who fell ill in 2008.

Around this time, the state of Connecticut was setting up its medical marijuana program.

She assembled a team of partners and secured one of the first production licenses in the state, becoming one of the first growing operations on the East Coast through her company, called Curaleaf Inc.

After a few years, the partners sold that company to a Massachusetts cannabis company called PalliaTech Inc., which adopted the name Curaleaf.

“Now Curaleaf is a very big cannabis entity,” said Arrasate, who retains a small stake in the business.

Today, Curaleaf operates more than 130 dispensaries and 26 cultivation sites in 22 states, according to its website.

Boston

Last year, she launched Seed as a recreational cannabis dispensary in Boston.

With Seed, it sought to diversify its investor base. Today, Seed’s investors are 81% people of color, 82% residents of the dispensary area, and 72% women, as well as people who have spent time incarcerated by the War on Drugs.

The goal, she said, is to move the industry away from stereotypes and misinformation and toward a future of diversity and unity.

In March 2021, she also opened the first Core museum in Boston. The exhibit is titled “American Warden” and explores incarceration in the United States in the context of cannabis prohibition.

Portland

Arrasate has been visiting Maine since she was a little girl.

Seed COO Caesar Napolitano lives in Portland across from the former Five Fifty-Five. When the restaurant closed, the partners considered renting the space.

For the Portland exhibit, the focus is on the cultivation process. The partners are currently working on the exhibition.

The museum will also host art exhibits and live music, she said.

The dispensary had a grand opening about a month ago. It has five employees and plans to hire more as needed. Design elements include a clean look and the use of subway tiles to create a historic yet industrial feel.

The museum exhibit is expected to be completed early next year.

Core welcomes artists, musicians, performers and anyone looking for a space to gather and showcase their art to the community. For more information, Click here.

About Bobby F. Lopez

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