Maine has been a leader in the legalization of cannabis. It was the fifth state to approve the use of medical cannabis, in 1999. Since that time, cannabis growth and sales have been limited to approved patients and authorized caregivers, as well as eight cannabis dispensaries statewide. Maine’s cannabis market is about to change drastically, however, as the state moves to implement legalized recreational cannabis.

Medical Cannabis Market

Figures from the state’s revenue department show that Mainers spent $24.8 million on non-edible cannabis products at the state’s eight dispensaries in 2016, a 5.3% increase over 2015 sales, the Portland Press Herald reported.

According to estimates by advocacy group Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, caregivers sold $27.3 million in medical cannabis in 2016. Maine Revenue Services doesn’t track caregiver sales tax data.

According to the Press Herald, licensed medical cannabis caregivers in Maine increased from 2,277 in January 2016 to 3,244 by the end of the year. The increase is even more dramatic when compared with figures in 2011, when there were 211 licensed growers/caregivers in the state.

According to Maine regulators, in 2016, Maine medical providers printed 51,324 patient certifications for medical cannabis, an increase of 36%.

Maine has a voluntary medical cannabis patient registry, so this figure is used to approximate patient counts in the state. That means nearly 4% of Mainers are certified medical cannabis patients, an astonishingly high figure considering enrollment in medical cannabis programs with similar qualifying conditions typically hovers around 1%-2% of a state’s population.

Maine’s recreational cannabis timeline

8 November 2016 Maine voters have approved cannabis for recreational use, allowing Mainers over age 21 to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana.

On January 30, 2017, Governor LePage issued Executive Order 2017-002 relating to rule-making as it related to the moratorium.

On May 2, 2018, the Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of LD 1719, An Act to Implement a Regulatory Structure for Adult Use Marijuana.

The state set an April 30, 2019, deadline for a consultant to develop rules required to begin adult-use cannabis sales, according to the Herald. Maine must start accepting recreational marijuana applications 30 days after regulations are adopted.

Opportunities for new businesses in Maine’s cannabis market

Although legislation is still unclear the opportunities are strong. Maine cannabis market was 8th in the top cannabis markets in 2016 with the whole sales over $50 million. It is projected that Maine medical and recreational cannabis market will exceed $300 million in 2020, according New Frontier’s forecast.

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