Over the weekend, the first adult use marijuana stores in Maine were finally able to open their doors to customers over the age of 21. There are currently nine adult use marijuana stores across the state that hold active licenses, and the Office of Marijuana Policy (“OMP”) is continuing to issue retail, cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and sample collection licenses on a rolling basis. The six stores that decided to start sales on October 9 generated $258,411.58 in sales dollars and $25,841.16 in total sales tax revenue to the state collectively over the long weekend, according to OMP. The numbers are subject to revision, as sales tax returns for the month of October are not due until mid-November.
While the launch date was a significant milestone for the Maine cannabis industry, state regulators, and members of the public that have supported legalization for years, the fact that it had to take place in the midst of a global pandemic necessarily limited the fanfare. In addition, some of the larger municipalities that have opted in to allow adult use marijuana stores were notably missing from the October launch. Portland, the largest city in Maine, is still making changes to its marijuana licensing ordinance and has yet to issue tentative approval to any adult use marijuana stores.
As discussed in a previous post, there are significant supply issues facing these stores for the time being. You can read more about that here. In addition, adult use marijuana establishments face higher overhead costs than their medical marijuana dispensary and caregiver retail store counterparts, as adult use establishments are subject to mandatory testing, stringent packaging and labeling requirements, excise taxes, and seed to sale tracking, all of which are absent in the medical market at this time. Accordingly, prices for consumers are higher and many operators have been hesitant to make the transition from medical to adult use. With all this being said, the adult use cannabis industry will continue to grow and the market is expected to be fully operational in 2021.