Friday, October 9th was a big day for the cannabis industry and consumers in Maine.
Many watched and waited to see how Maine’s first rollout of recreational cannabis sales would go last week. As expected, there were some kinks and frustrations, but also some positive reports and hope for the continued development of the program. Social media was full of varying opinions — from frustration with long lines, limited product, and unexpected pricing to excitement over busy stores, new favorite shops, and the quest to discovering which locations were truly “Mainer”-owned businesses.
As previously reported, 8 locations had received licenses ahead of time to be able to open and sell cannabis recreationally beginning Friday, October 9th. Additionally, a 9th license was added during the first day of legal recreational sales, with a plan to open in several weeks. The program is slow to get out of the gate, and compared to the current medical program stats almost seems insurmountable. There are currently 2,831 registered caregivers in Maine and 597 cannabis medical providers. Unfortunately, due to limited supplies of approved recreational cannabis products, only 6 of the 9 newly licensed locations were able to open on time and begin sales.
Cannabis products sold in recreational stores must be properly tracked, including extensive testing and items needing to be tagged from seed to sale.
This extensive process ahead of opening day resulted in lower readily available inventory. There is the hope that as this process is smoothed out, supplies will be less limited. The thought is this eventual more streamlined process will result in lowered prices on the currently high-priced recreational products available. It is reported that costs within the medical cannabis industry are much more affordable, and inventory is less of a concern. It appears some more watching and waiting is in order before any final conclusions will be drawn.
Currently, the revenue seen the last several years from the medical cannabis program have been steadily increasing. For the 2019 fiscal year in Maine, the MMMP revenues were $2,597,338.25. This was right on track with 2018 fiscal year revenue of $ 2,444,917.74 — showing a reliable and steady revenue source for the state. It will be interesting to see if the numbers moving forward from rec will bring in less, more, or equal amounts of revenue. The first numbers released from the Office of Marijuana Policy for recreational sales on the first day seem promising, however, it is uncertain what those numbers hold for predictability on future revenue. The Portland Press Herald reported that per David Heidrich of OMP the Maine recreational shops reported total first-day sales to equal $94,643.38; this translates to $9,464.34 in sales tax revenue. It is expected for additional revenue information to be released this week. We are also expectantly waiting for more recreational licenses to be rewarded in the coming weeks and months. Many within the state are hopeful these will go to true Maine-Owned, Maine-Focused businesses to allow for the revenue to benefit our state as much as possible.
The medical cannabis program is still alive and well and thriving in this state, with many consumers choosing to remain loyal to their medicinal products and shops instead of making the switch to recreational.
There are clear differences between the two programs, making it a powerful choice for many. While there is no one size fits all option, there are definitely plenty of options available to cannabis consumers, whether medical or rec. With the introduction of recreational sales to the already existing substantial medical sales revenue, many are hopeful that the wonderful cannabis plant in all its forms will only continue to bring great things to our state.