The state of Maine is famous for its potatoes and blueberries. However, marijuana surpassed them both to become the most valuable crop in the state. Its first medical marijuana laws were passed in 1999. They allowed patients in the Maine medical cannabis program to grow their plants. South Portland and Portland decriminalized the drug’s recreational use and possession in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Most residents of Portland, Maine, like many Americans, were unhappy with the federal government’s marijuana prohibition laws. This is why voters decided to adopt a smarter cannabis policy in 2013. The referendum to legalize recreational use of the drug was largely symbolic. However, it did not override federal and state laws. Nevertheless, it sparked efforts to legalize the drug for recreational use.
In the meantime, medical marijuana had been having a significant impact on the state’s economy. In 2016, voters in the state legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Retailers could finally open for business in 2020 following a series of frustrating delays. From January through October 2020, sales of medical marijuana in the state totaled more than $221 million. This is more than double the sales recorded in the previous year. This compares to $26 million for blueberries, $123 million for milk, and $184 million for potatoes in 2019.
Effects of COVID-19 on Cannabis Sales in Maine
The coronavirus pandemic, interestingly, did not slow down marijuana sales. Today, one thing is clear; people in America will get their marijuana, regardless of the economic situation. The state’s marijuana sales figures include sales from a few cannabis dispensaries and a huge network of about 3,000 registered caregivers. There are approximately 65,000 patients in the Maine medical cannabis program.
Sales of recreational marijuana in the state are also set to increase. They totaled $1.4 million the first-month cannabis stores started operating. Sales in the recreational sector, however, face several limitations. For instance, they face purchase limits, supply shortages, and a relatively small number of retail stores. In contrast, in the same month, medical cannabis sales totaled almost $22 million.
The global pandemic put many Maine residents out of work. Nevertheless, experts still expect medical marijuana sales to increase. The average monthly spending on marijuana went up when lockdowns began in early 2020. This is because medical marijuana patients rushed to stockpile the drug. Marijuana in Maine seemed to be immune to many of the pandemic’s most serious business killers.
Medical Cannabis Sales in Maine Shatter Records in 2020
The Maine medical cannabis program experienced an unprecedented windfall in 2020. Users spent more on the product than any year on record. Analysts expect this trend to continue, thanks to the legalization initiatives of recreational cannabis. Recreational cannabis sales offer a great opportunity for further expansion into the legal marijuana industry. It will open the market to prospective manufacturers, cultivators, and retailers awaiting state licensing.
One of the biggest booms in America may be happening in the marijuana industry. It is one of the fastest-growing markets in the country, according to many analysts. The cannabis industry employs hundreds of thousands of people full-time, in addition to indirect jobs. No wonder some call it the hidden job boom.