With the Maine Wire’s recent investigative reporting on the “Triad Weed” operations that have overtaken rural Maine, there has been an increased interest in developing a better understanding of the state’s cannabis industry and how it has evolved.
Although medical marijuana has been available in Maine for more than a decade, the legalization of recreational marijuana is relatively new.
On election day in 2016, Maine voters approved a referendum question legalizing the sale, use, and taxation of recreational cannabis throughout the state.
Following a lengthy rule making process that extended over the next several years, the regulatory and statutory landscape for the recreational marijuana industry was solidified in late 2019 and retail operations went online in 2020.
In the years since, the sale and use of recreational cannabis has changed and shifted.
The industry has brought in millions of dollars worth of sales since marijuana was legalized for adult use, and it has grown dramatically over the past few years, according to data from the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy (Maine OCP).
In fiscal year (FY) 2020, there were $4,278,391.19 in recreational cannabis sales throughout the state. Sales in FY 2022 totaled $158,904,376.62, nearly two-times higher than the $81,963,009.29 worth of cannabis sold in FY 2021.
So far in 2023, there have been a whopping $179,922,150.57 in sales — a figure that is already more than 42 times higher than that of 2020.
The biggest year-over-year jump in cannabis sales came between 2020 and 2021, during which time spending on marijuana increased by more than 19-fold.
This year to date, there have been more than 3.1 million recreational cannabis transactions throughout the state, with 341,369 occurring in the month of October alone.
This figure has been increasing dramatically year-over-year. In 2020, there were just 62,459 recreational marijuana transactions, but this number shot up over a million in 2021, reaching 1,118,140 by the end of that year. 2022 saw more than double that, coming in at a total of 2,477,691.
Currently, there are nearly 300 active recreational cannabis licenses in Maine — 89 cultivation licenses, 68 manufacturing licenses, 4 testing licenses, and 135 store licenses.
The Maine OCP also has made data available with regard to the state’s medical marijuana industry and the recreational industry.
In Maine, a “qualifying patient” is defined as an individual who has been given a “valid written certification regarding medical use of cannabis.”
Nearly 9,000 of these written certifications were provided in October of this year alone. In 2022, a total of 106,164 written certifications were printed by medical providers.
Between 2019 and 2020, there was a major increase in the number of written certifications being produced on a yearly basis — from 65,368 in 2019 to 96,046 in 2020. Since then, the number has slowly and steadily increased year-over-year.
As of now, there are 58 active dispensary licenses, and 1,799 registered medical caregivers. This number has fluctuated somewhat over the past several years, although it has continued to hover roughly between 2,000 and 3,000.
According to state law, caregivers are individuals who are authorized to purchase and possess medical marijuana on behalf of a qualifying patient.
The number of medical providers issuing written certifications for medical cannabis has increased dramatically over the past decade.
From 2012 to 2014, there were only between 36 and 68 medical providers. This number shot up to 302 in 2015 and has largely been on the rise since. Currently, there are 755 of these providers located throughout Maine.