Cannabis in Maine
Marijuana Venture’s ongoing series on every legal market in the United States concludes this month with a look at the emerging adult-use market in Maine, exploring the ever-changing rules and regulations, market trends, demographics, business leaders and more.
Blowing past all early projections and expectations, Maine’s recreational market is nearing $50 million in revenue in its first year, which is not bad for the seventh-smallest state in the union and one that was among the first to outlaw recreational use of the plant way back in 1915 (though after it banned alcohol, interestingly enough).
At one point, Maine’s stance on cannabis was so strict that a state senator introduced a bill mandating life sentences for any cannabis-related violation.
But after felony convictions for possession saw a spike in arrests in the early 1960s, especially among the youth, voters in the state changed their approach. In 1976, possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis was decriminalized and punishments for exceeding the limit were civil infractions, similar to speeding tickets. Then, in 1999 voters passed a citizen-led referendum making the state just the fifth to approve medical marijuana.
In 2014, the residents of Portland and South Portland passed recreational cannabis laws, paving the way for the Marijuana Legalization Act to be approved statewide in 2016 by a slim 50.61% majority.
After years of foot-dragging by prohibitionist former governor Paul LePage, the Legislature finally acted and adult-use sales began in October 2020, joining Maine’s still-growing medical program and its 96,000 registered patients.
With 124 active licenses and 448 others pending, the state known as Vacationland for its wealth of natural beauty and stunning, island-dotted shoreline is expected to continue seeing incredible growth in a burgeoning market already growing at a month-over-month rate of more than 20%. Within its first year, the state’s cannabis industry is estimated to have created more than 2,600 jobs.
With four license types to choose from, the allowance for vertical integration and a recent decision to not enforce a state residency requirement, Maine is poised to capitalize on its reputation as a tourist destination to prove that one of the smallest markets in the country can also be among the mightiest.
A special thanks to AAA Pharms and Paul’s Boutique for sponsoring this issue.
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