Adult-use cannabis sales soared last year in Maine, nearly doubling the total for 2021.
The local news outlet Masthead Maine, citing data that was released by the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy, reports that the “state’s licensed adult-use retailers reported nearly 2.5 million sale transactions, totaling $158.9 million [in 2022],” which was up from the $82 million of sales generated the year prior.
“(The growth) reflects the significant economic impact that legal cannabis continues to have in the communities that have opted into the system,” said John Hudak, the director of the state’s Office of Cannabis Policy, as quoted by Masthead Maine. “The system is creating jobs, helping revitalize communities, and having a positive economic impact on businesses that help the industry function.”
Maine voters approved a proposal legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults in 2016, but the law took years to finally materialize.
That is because former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, repeatedly stood in the way of the law’s implementation.
But voters there elected a new governor in 2018, the Democrat Janet Mills, who immediately went to work in upholding the will of the people and getting the new marijuana law up and running.
In the summer of 2019, Mills signed a bill that made changes to and enacted the new cannabis law.
“Over the course of the last several months, my Administration has worked quickly to implement the law regarding Maine’s adult-use recreational marijuana market as Maine voters asked the state to do two and a half years ago,” Mills said at the time. “The rule development demonstrates what can be accomplished when state government works with lawmakers, industry stakeholders, and the public to accomplish a shared goal. With this law, we are one step closer to honoring the will of Maine voters.”
The governor’s office said at the time that the legislation signed by Mills made “several changes to the [marijuana law] including an amendment to the Maine Food Law to no longer consider edibles produced with recreational marijuana as adulterated, allowing the entry of certain vendors into the limited access areas of licensees, and authorizing the department to impose an administrative hold on a licensee,” while additionally authorizing both the Office of Marijuana Policy and the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services “to complete final adoption of their adult use rulemaking.”
“OMP consulted with seven different state agencies consisting of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Labor; Department of Public Safety; Department of Environmental Protection; Department of Professional and Financial Regulation; and DAFS’ Maine Revenue Services when completing their rulemaking work,” Mills’s office said at the time. “The office also coordinated closely with the Office of the Attorney General, Department of the Secretary of State and the Legislature’s Office of Policy and Legal Analysis.”
Legal adult-use cannabis sales officially kicked off in Maine in October of 2020, nearly four years after voters approved the legalization ballot measure.
The months and years that have followed have seen the fledgling marijuana industry grow and prosper. In May 2021, the state reported more than $5 million in recreational pot sales, which at the time made it the highest grossing month.
That is a modest figure compared to the more recent monthly sales totals. Masthead Maine reports that the state “set a new record each month through August 2022, which brought in over $17 million.”
Last month brought in $15.2 million in recreational marijuana sales, according to the outlet, and the 2022 sales “also earned the state roughly $16 million in tax revenue.”