Last month, Maine's legal adult-use retailers sold more than $5 million worth of weed for the first time in state history.
Throughout the month of May, the state's 34 licensed adult-use stores sold nearly $5.4 million worth of legal pot, bringing the state around $536,000 in tax revenue. Retailers made 71,843 total transactions that month, with an average purchase of around $74 per sale. Smokable flower accounted for 59 percent of total sales, edibles and infused products made up another 23 percent of sales, and concentrates rounded out the last 18 percent.
Breaking that $5 million milestone is a welcome relief for Maine's adult-use weed businesses, who have been frustrated by years of delays. The Pine Tree State actually legalized adult-use weed way back in 2016, but former Governor Paul LePage and other GOP politicians did everything in their power to stop legal pot sales from materializing. It ended up taking four years for the state to get around to passing adult-use regulations into law.
Retail sales finally began last October, and the state's first six dispensaries managed to sell $1.4 million worth of pot by the end of that month. Since then, stores have broken a new sales record every single month. May's record is definitely the most impressive of these jumps, beating April's record by over $1 million. Since sales began, the adult-use market has made $22.7 million in total sales, bringing the state over $2.2 million in taxes.
It's great to see that Maine's adult-use industry is steadily growing after years of delays, but it has a long way to go to catch up with other states' legal pot markets. This March alone, Illinois sold over $109 million worth of pot, almost five times more than Maine sold in seven months. And in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational pot, dispensaries sold $562 million worth of pot in the first three months of 2021.
But even though the adult-use market is growing slowly, weed is actually the most valuable crop in the state. Maine's medical marijuana industry has proved to be far stronger than its recreational market, with over 65,000 registered patients and 3,000 caregivers as of last fall. Last year, the state's medical marijuana market made over $250 million in sales, more than local potato, dairy, or blueberry farmers sold.
Adult-use sales are expected to grow exponentially as new stores and cultivators come online and tourist season begins. The state's third licensed testing lab just opened its doors last month, and regulatory officials are also working to approve 239 additional adult-use stores. The average price of flower has also dropped from $56 an eighth last fall to $49 an eighth today, which will likely encourage customers to stock up.
Erik Gundersen, director of the Office of Marijuana Policy, told the Portland Press-Herald that the state's adult-use licensees have been especially “innovative and resilient” in their efforts to weather the pandemic and excessive licensing delays. “As our state prepares to welcome visitors as part of the summer tourist season, I am confident they will remain committed to upholding the high standards we have for protecting the public’s health and safety.”