After a slow start, it looks like Maine is going to be the next state to join the legal cannabis club. The state’s Office of Marijiuana Policy (OMP) announced on July 28 that they are on track to have legal recreational cannabis available to adults 21 and up by the end of the fiscal year.
The kick off to recreational, adult-use marijuana has been a long process fraught with delays. While the state intended to officially launch the program in June, issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that pretty much everything shut down — including the inauguration of recreational-use cannabis. Nevertheless, the OMP announced that 27 businesses are currently wrapping up the last phases of licensing, reviews and authorizations required prior to opening.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that things could proceed more deliberately. Maine plans to use this unanticipated time to allow the industry to grow, test products, and get the appropriate quality control systems in place before things kick off. The system will start with a few cannabis-specific business types — dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturing labs and testing labs. These businesses plan to open for business at the end of the quarter; right around late September or early October.
The 27 businesses approved by the state so far are just the cherry on top of a delicious, stoney sundae. Right now 342 businesses have submitted license applications. That means opportunity.
Maine’s medical marijuana market is small but mighty. Even though customers are limited to patients carrying medical cards, sales in 2019 were, on average, $10 million per month. Many believe that medical patients will switch to the recreational side of the table simply due to the convenience factor. Due to the delay of the recreational launch, sales predictions will be lower than initially anticipated. However, the state predicts cannabis sales will hit $166 million by 2023, which will benefit the state and the industry, too.
Maine’s legal recreational market will grow over time. The cautious roll-out means that the industry can make important corrections to processes before it becomes too established. Despite the clunky start, the foundation looks strong. The plan looks stout. All in all, the future looks bright.