Recreational marijuana sales have more than doubled since the market opened in October, with the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy reporting almost $2.5 million in sales in January.

Maine’s 15 licensed adult-use retailers reported 33,521 sales worth $2.47 million in the first month of the new year, earning the state roughly $247,000 in tax revenue. 

The average customer spent about $74 per sale in January, according to statewide data, up from about $66 per sale the first month. 

Smokable cannabis, or flower, accounted for about 63 percent of sales, a decrease from 76 percent when the market opened, likely the result of a more diversified product line being available. 

The average price of bud has fallen from $16.67 per gram to $14.57 per gram, or about $52 for an eighth of an ounce, down from $59. An eighth is enough to roll seven fat joints or about 14 cigarette-style ones. 

“By and large, we’re encouraged by what we see,” said David Heidrich, spokesperson for the Office of Marijuana Policy. “Four months into the program … we’re pleased the launch has gone as smoothly as it has.”

At the start, the industry struggled with limited supply, few options and high costs, but since the first month, Maine has licensed 13 more cultivation facilities and 10 more manufacturing sites.

“As the market matures over the coming months, we’ll see the supply and demand challenges diminish as more diverse product becomes available,” Heidrich said.

January also saw the opening of the state’s second testing lab, Nova Analytics in Portland. As more labs are approved, he expects prices will continue to fall. 

“More competition for business among the labs will help reduce the cost of testing” for retailers, he said. Lower overhead costs will likely help lower prices.

Brandon Pollock, owner of Theory Wellness in South Portland, experienced firsthand the frustrations of the limited inventory when his adult-use store opened with the first wave on Oct. 9.

There are more options now, and business is going well, but there are still “pretty few” stores, growers and manufacturers, he said, adding that he’s excited to watch as those numbers increase.

Recreational marijuana will always come with a bit of a premium because of the regulations, Pollock said, “but as more folks get online, we expect to see them go down.”

Still, he’s been able to lower prices an estimated 10 percent or so, and hopes to be able to lower them more.

Peter Ingram, CEO of Maine Cannabis Exchange, also in South Portland, said his adult-use store has been “steadily gaining steam” since it opened in November.

“We’re seeing steady and linear growth in spending habits,” he said.

Like Pollock, he noted the early limited supply was a “huge problem right out of the gate.”

“Customers were frustrated that the price was so high,” he said, and while he has been able to lower prices with the increased product diversity, it’s “still way higher than medical (cannabis products).”

An eighth of medical cannabis can run $28 to $40, depending on the seller, quality and strain, and Ingram is hopeful that within the next few years, the prices for recreational and medical will be more in line. 

“There are all these provisional licenses waiting on municipal approval,” he said, and as more towns opt into the state’s marijuana program, more will follow suit.

“It’s going to get better this year,” Ingram said. “The stigma is changing all the time, and people are getting more and more open about it. It’s exciting.”

Brothers Cannabis in Bangor is Maine’s 16th retail store, opening its doors earlier this month. Brothers is getting a little bit busier every day, co-owner Greg Hawes said – a positive sign despite advertising regulations being their biggest hurdle. 

Hawes, who owns the store with his brother Matt, runs G&M Family Market in Holden. His retail experience, coupled with his brother’s 22 years in the cannabis industry, made it a “good time to cross paths and start a new adventure,” he said. 

Brothers has an atmosphere that’s “welcoming and approachable,” he said, and features “prices we predict will be sustainable through any market change.” 

Recreational cannabis sales figures in Maine have steadily increased since the market launch, with retailers bringing in about $1.07 million the first month, $1.2 million in November and $1.9 million in December. So far, the legal adult use market has reported about $6.7 million in sales, earning the state almost $675,000 in sales tax revenue. 

In comparison, Maine’s medical marijuana program – which includes eight licensed dispensaries, more than 200 stores run by medical marijuana caregivers and individual caregivers that operate out of their homes or deliver – sold on average $9.4 million in medical marijuana during a typical 31-day month in 2019.

Maine’s rollout of legalized adult-use cannabis has been the slowest in U.S. history. It took almost four years after voters approved legalization in 2016, with movement slowed by legislative rewrites, gubernatorial vetoes, a change in state administration and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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