On October 9th, Maine became the tenth US State to begin the sale of recreational cannabis, four years after its initial legalization measure. Limited product availability, socially distanced shopping, and relatively high prices highlight the state's recreational debut, working to hinder some of the excitement.
Still, marijuana shoppers flooded stores for what was available: flower, pre-rolled joints, and 10 packs of edibles containing 4 milligrams of THC. It is unclear when Maine’s recreational cannabis supply shortfall will be resolved; but due to complications with Cocid-19, it’s not expected to be anytime soon.
With supply shortages expected to continue across the state, uncertainty around Maine’s cannabis market will continue. With tourism numbers way down due to coronavirus and 90% of harvest owned by a single retailer demanding a wholesale price in excess of $4,000 per pound, the entire industry finds itself off-kilter.
While Maine is not alone in high prices and supply challenges in the early stages of launching a recreational cannabis program, with a great deal of uncertainty going forward surrounding coronavirus, some experts say it could be over 18 months before the market corrects itself.
The four year delay in the launch of an adult-use cannabis program can largely be attributed to Maine’s former governor, Paul LePage, who was staunchly against recreational marijuana. Marijuana Business daily projects that the market will produce between $275 million and $325 million a year in sales by 2024.
With a shortage of flower and other products already appearing on the medical side in recent months, retailers seeking a move into the recreational industry might pull back the reins a bit. The state continues to issue adult-use licenses as part of a three-step process. Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) reported 433 applicants in various stages of the process, with 21 active recreational licenses already in use.