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Even With Recreational Sales Still a Year Out, Maine’s Medical Marijuana Market Tumbles

Maine’s medical marijuana dispensary sales and its number of certified patients fell in 2017, likely because of forthcoming recreational market.

Maine’s medical marijuana program saw a major decline in 2017, according to a new report from Marijuana Business Daily.

After experiencing strong growth in 2016, last year Maine’s medical marijuana sales dropped nine percent from $26.6 million to $24.5 million. The state’s number of certified medical marijuana patients dropped by 18 percent, from 51,297 to 41,858.

Maine’s medical marijuana patient registry is voluntary, and therefore patient certifications can only be used to approximate patient counts. Industry experts, however, believe the real number of patients is within 5 percent of the registered count.

The drops in sales and patient are likely attributed to Maine voters having legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016. While licensed recreational cannabis sales won’t begin until sometime in 2019, adults aged 21 years and over have been able to legally grow, possess, and consume marijuana in the state since January 2017.

Maine’s recreational marijuana industry is amidst political limbo, as Republican Governor Paul LePage, concerned with how the Donald Trump administration intends to approach state-legal marijuana, has been resistant to approving the framework for implementing the legalization of recreational marijuana. As such, the sale of marijuana remains illegal outside of the medical marijuana market.

Legal Limbo Leads to Drop in Patients and Sales

The current legal limbo around Maine’s recreational marijuana industry has caused confusion for patients who had been obtaining their cannabis through medical dispensaries or licensed caregivers. Many have chose to not renew their physician’s recommendation because they were under the impression that it was no longer necessary.

Additionally, several businesses in Maine have taken advantage of a loophole in the law that permits adults to “gift” marijuana to another adult, provided they don’t receive anything in return.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, some businesses in Maine are selling products unrelated to marijuana – such as clothing or soda – at inflated prices and providing a “free” gift of marijuana with the purchase. Others offer to deliver a “free” gift of marijuana while charging customers for the cost of delivery scales.

 marijuana in maine

Maine’s Cannabis Laws

Maine’s recreational marijuana law allows adults to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana and to grow up to 6 flowering marijuana plants, 12 immature plants, and unlimited seedlings. Once regulations are approved and licensed dispensary sales do begin, a 10 percent tax will be applied. The state is expected to generate as much as $325 million in annual marijuana sales once the market is operational.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine since 1999. The state’s medical marijuana program allows patients diagnosed with one of 17 conditions that have obtained a written certification from a physician to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from a dispensary or caregiver, as well as personally grow up to 6 mature plants.

Hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products are legal under Federal Law in the United States. Individual states are dynamic and fluid, and Maine and other states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.

Learn More About U.S. Cannabis Industry

While marijuana remains prohibited under federal law, more than half of U.S. states have legalized marijuana in some capacity. Learn more about the cannabis laws where you live by visiting our education page, or keep up with the latest industry news through our news page.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.
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