Tim and Jennifer Smale have built and run businesses before.

But their newest venture is more personal.

Tim Smale, a former competitive swimmer with a master’s degree in business administration, developed severe migraine headaches in his mid-20s. He said he tried various prescription drugs, but gave up because of side effects and the risk of addiction.

In 2004, he said, he discovered what he says is a safer, better treatment for the pain and nausea: marijuana.

Smale eventually put his MBA to work in the medical marijuana industry, serving as general manager of an Oakland-based consulting firm called CannBe that helped launch dispensaries in California. The business is affiliated with Harborside Treatment Center, Oakland’s biggest dispensary.

When Maine voters enacted a law last November allowing dispensaries for the first time, the couple saw a new opportunity. Jennifer Smale is a Yarmouth native and the couple already owned a home in Vienna.

The Smales moved back to Maine and were awarded a state license to open a dispensary — the Remedy Compassion Center — in the Auburn area. They also hope to be granted a license to operate a York County dispensary.

Smale said he will use his experience with dispensaries in northern California, but also plans to modify the business to fit Maine’s more rural culture and its unique set of rules.

“I think there are lots of eyes all over the country watching what’s happening here,” Smale said. “We wanted to run one and run one very well. We know the business from the inside out.”

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com