The 2018 midterm elections made a powerful impact on the cannabis industry, bringing the number of states with legal recreational marijuana to 10 and medical marijuana to 33. However, following the trend of West Coast states like Oregon and Colorado, Maine became one of the first states in the Northeast to embrace recreational use back in 2016. And today, many Mainers are preparing to open their doors to the public, including Noelle Livas of Meowy Jane. Livas is the co-owner of one of Maine’s top grow facilities and provides cannabis caregiving to a wide variety of patients. We had the opportunity to learn more about her business and how she provides care to the medical marijuana community of Maine.
When did you first develop an interest in starting a marijuana business and how did your company come to be?
My husband, Joe and I started the business about seven years ago. I was a nanny finishing up my degree in psychology and he was a CPA running his own business. As you can imagine, accounting was insanely boring and I had no plans for a career after school ended. We began researching the local laws regarding caregiving in our state and found the idea extremely interesting. This line of work would allow Joe to indulge his nerdier, scientific side and allow me some time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I initially didn’t know much about the industry, as it was so new and taboo at the time. I was honestly very nervous at first, so I eased in slowly. Over the course of a few months, I ended up falling in love with gardening. About a year in, I was working full-time with Joe and had officially made our business name Meowy Jane, because who isn’t obsessed with cats and puns? We have upgraded our facility four times now, changing locations and dealing with build-outs. It’s been a hell of a journey, but we are extremely happy with where we are now.
As the co-owner of Meowy Jane, what does a typical workday look like?
A typical day for me now looks very unfamiliar to a typical day for me a few years ago. I now garden part-time, and generally find myself filling in wherever needed daily (i.e., troubleshooting problems, packaging for retail, etc.). Currently, we are mostly focused on our new retail store which we just signed the lease for. It’s our most exciting new venture and a huge step for Meowy Jane. Getting everything set up for the store opening in a few months is now our priority. I also foresee that when the store opens, I will be working there for a bit to get everything running smoothly. Gardening is definitely my first love and I try to spend time there whenever I can. But for now, the girls are in amazing hands with my crew.
As someone who services the medical marijuana community, how would you describe the demographics of your clientele?
Our demographics are really incredible. I absolutely love meeting all of the different patients. I’ve had patients from all different backgrounds and experience levels. We’ve had people with immune disorders, glaucoma, Crohn's disease, Lyme disease, PTSD, autism, epilepsy, pain, etc. Every single one of these patients has found relief with cannabis; it’s really incredible and extremely fulfilling to see the product you produce significantly improve a person’s quality of life.
What strains do you cultivate at Meowy Jane and why?
We spent a good amount of money acquiring the best genetics we could get our paws on. I was lucky enough to know two local and very talented cultivators who had a variety of popular strains, such as GG4, Wedding Cake, Gelato 33, Purple Punch, etc. We keep only the best strains and cull anything that’s not popular or doesn’t produce results up to our standards. Everything comes into consideration when we choose what strains to keep. It must check all the boxes: terpene profile, THC content, yield, flower time, overall appearance, etc. But mostly, our customers determine what we will choose to keep and what we choose to cull. Among our most popular strains right now, we have another seven to 10 new strains we are pheno-hunting. Hopefully, we find some winners to add to the rotation because keeping a variety of strains to choose from is very important.
Do specific strains benefit specific disorders or diseases? If so, please elaborate on the strains you cultivate.
This is an extremely tricky question. I believe we have only just begun to realize the depths of benefits this plant has to offer and how complex each individual’s system and makeup is. The effect of a specific strain on one person may be completely different for another person. I have never found one specific strain that I can confidently say will produce similar results in the majority of people. Except for Purple Punch — that strain will make you eat everything in your house.
Beyond flower, what other cannabis products do you offer to your clientele?
We recently opened a lab that produces shatter, diamonds, distillate, sauce, and cartridges. This is a project Joe has been spearheading.
How do you plan to expand your business as recreational use takes effect in Maine?
As of right now, we have been expanding via the extraction lab and the new retail store we are opening. All of these things are currently medical only, as it is still mostly unknown when the state of Maine is going to roll out recreational. As soon as recreational comes out, we hope to convert our storefront into a place that can also serve the public.
What’s up next for Noelle Livas and Meowy Jane?
Well, currently I am 20 weeks pregnant with our first child, a baby girl. This is going to be a huge shift for Joe and I, as for the last seven years, Meowy Jane has been our full-time business baby. I am so excited about this new part of our life and feel extremely blessed that I am in a position to run a business and have a child without sacrificing either. I will be taking some time off in June when little Meowy junior arrives, but after that, I hope to be able to get back to work expanding and improving our business. Joe wants to be a stay-at-home dad. *laughs* He made me say that.