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August 31, 2022

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

rendering of storefront with orange door Courtesy / Core Cannabis Museum This rendering depicts the Core Cannabis Museum that’s in development on Congress Street in Portland.

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

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

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

The museum is in leased 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 deal.

The 555 Congress St. location formerly housed 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 women ownership, diverse investor base and social justice.

storefront and signs
Courtesy / Spectrum Real Estate
In Portland’s arts district, a new cannabis dispensary and museum have a mission aimed at social justice.

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

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

At that time, the state of Connecticut was establishing its medical marijuana program.

She put together a team of partners and obtained one of the state’s first production licenses, becoming one of the first cultivation 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 Curaleaf name.

“Now, Curaleaf is a very large cannabis entity,” said Arrasate, who retains a small share in the company. 

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


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

With Seed, she looked to diversify her investor base. Today, Seed’s investors are 81% people of color, 82% local to 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 evolve 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 exhibition is called “American Warden” and explores incarceration in the U.S. against the backdrop of cannabis prohibition. 


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

The COO of Seed, Caesar Napolitano, lives in Portland across from the former Five Fifty-Five. When the restaurant closed, the partners looked into leasing the space. 

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

The museum will also accommodate art shows and live music, she said. 

The dispensary had a grand opening about a month ago. It has five employees and the plan is to hire more as needed. Design elements include a clean-lined look and the use of subway tiles in order to create a historical but industrial feel. 

It’s expected the museum exhibition will be complete early next year. 

Core is welcoming artists, musicians, performers and anyone seeking a space to gather and present their craft to the community. For more information, click here.

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