Maine's medical marijuana industry has made nearly $222 million in sales so far this year, officially making cannabis the most valuable crop in the state.
Between January and October, the state’s medical pot shops reported a record $221.8 million in sales. Based on these figures, the state is projecting a year-end total of $266 million, a 152 percent increase over last year's total of $109.2 million. This year's record medical marijuana sales have moved cannabis to the top of the state's list of agricultural products. Last year, local farmers sold $184.1 million worth of potatoes, $123.6 million worth of milk, and $26 million worth of wild blueberries.
Maine now boasts 65,000 registered medical marijuana patients and 3,000 caregivers, who are authorized to distribute medical pot to patients. The number of certified patients has grown significantly over this year, thanks to a new state law that allows doctors to recommend medical cannabis for literally any reason they see fit. This law also allows local dispensaries to sell medical pot to registered cardholders from 26 other medical marijuana states.
And like most other states, weed sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Oregon and Colorado have both already sold more than $1 billion worth of legal pot this year, and even Illinois' new adult-use market has been breaking sales records during the pandemic. From March to April, as the lockdown began, weed sales increased by 43 percent in Colorado and 48 percent in Massachusetts. Maine is unable to track monthly sales increases because many businesses report their sales on a quarterly basis, but each quarter of this year has seen increasing sales.
“Since March, we have all been participating in a national experiment,” said Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group, to the Portland Press-Herald. “What we’ve learned is that no matter what, Americans are going to get their cannabis, alcohol, baking supplies, and cars, regardless of the economy.”
“A lot of people have money to spend on weed because they’re not going out,” said John Morrison, owner of Cure Cannabis in Auburn. “People are spending a lot of time at home. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of stress in the world right now. People are medicating. And If I’m worried about losing my job, or stretching my budget, even top-shelf cannabis is going to cost me a fraction of what I’d pay for an expensive dinner.”
Maine's record medical marijuana sales figures don't even take adult-use sales into account. After four long years of political challenges and regulatory delays, the Pine Tree State finally began selling recreational pot this October. During that first month of sales, the state made over $1.4 million in adult-use sales, a tiny fraction of the $22 million in medical cannabis sales made that same month.
But as new adult-use stores open, and the recreational market overcomes its initial supply shortages, sales are expected to grow – and the combination of these two markets will ensure that weed holds its position as Maine's most valuable crop.