Bonnie McGinley (left) and Matthew Ryan (right) inside Royal Leaf Apothecary on 418 Main St. Credit: David DiMinno / The Presque Isle Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The newest recreational cannabis shop in Presque Isle will have a mother’s touch.

That’s because mother Bonnie McGinley and her son Matthew Ryan are business partners at Royal Leaf Apothecary at 415 Main St. McGinley’s vision for the shop has added education about marijuana and its uses and an emphasis on community connection, besides selling products.

Royal Leaf is the second adult-use marijuana store in Aroostook County’s commercial hub, and one of seven total shops existing or in the wings in Presque Isle. Medical marijuana retailers like Star City Wellness and Northern Maine Flower have done exceptionally well in Presque Isle, and Full Bloom Cannabis has also found success there growing the adult use cannabis market.

McGinley had the idea to open a marijuana shop in 2016, when Maine voters approved a referendum allowing for the sale of recreational marijuana.

“I recognized that I held the qualifications the people of Maine requested,” McGinley said. “I am a Mainer, with childhood roots in Orono. I have been a member of the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine since 2017.”

McGinley has no outside backing and is providing all of the capital for the business. She also has done the research and made the necessary checks to ensure that she and her son are operating within the state’s laws and regulations.

With an outline in place for the new business, McGinley looked to her son to be her right-hand man. Ryan was in Seattle when his mother visited him to discuss the venture, and was employed by an outerwear company, where he had worked for 20 years.

“I missed my mom,” Ryan said. “My sister is also over in Bangor, so it was a real pull toward the family. After talking with some contacts in Seattle, where marijuana has been legal since 2012, I was able to see that this can be a very successful business, so those were the two catalysts for me getting on board.”

The two have divided the labor of running the store. McGinley oversees the business’ development, making sure it meets the state’s criteria and has the equipment needed to run it. She will remain in Bangor, and travel between southern and northern Maine to find the best selection of cannabis products for the store.

Ryan will live in Presque Isle and assume a managerial role while continuing to build the store and its brand. Ryan and McGinley both said that city officials have been very helpful to them during the process of establishing the store.

While there are three open marijuana shops in town — two medical and one recreational — with more on the way, McGinley and Ryan embrace the competition as a positive for the region and consumers.

“Both Matt and I believe that competition is healthy. That being said, we prefer to work cooperatively with, rather than competitively against, the other marijuana businesses in town. We have had the pleasure of meeting the owners of Full Bloom Cannabis, the other adult-use

store in Presque Isle,” McGinley said.

Despite the two businesses both operating as adult-use marijuana stores, they will each offer distinct products, broadening the overall selection to consumers in the same market.

Royal Leaf will not be cultivating or manufacturing its own marijuana products. Instead, McGinley and Ryan will focus on purchasing products from highly regarded cultivators, and bringing them to Presque Isle.

The store itself is well kept and decorated in a rustic-modern hybrid style. Customers are greeted with multiple screens that contain information about various strains of marijuana, their different effects and the unique qualities of indica, sativa and hybrid blends.

“We are friendly, community people,” Ryan said. “Come in, meet us and see the store. It might be your thing and might not be, but maybe reserve judgment as much as you can until you find out.”

The store’s official ribbon cutting will be at 11 a.m. Jan. 4, 2022.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the street address of Royal Leaf Apothecary.

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David DiMinno

David grew up in New York, and moved to Maine to study political science at the University of Maine. In his spare time, he loves hiking, playing tennis and skiing.