Legal sales of cannabis to adult-use consumers in Maine commenced on October 9th, almost four years after voters legalized a licensed and regulated recreational cannabis market in the 2016 election. However, the supply chain is still developing and reports indicate that sales will be limited due to a shortage of legally prepared product, a situation that will likely persist for a bit.
According to a report from the Portland Press Herald, seven retailers were licensed to sell to the general public as of early October, along with seven growers and four product manufacturers to supply inventory. However, three growers are integrated with licensed retailers, while two other growers are integrated with retailers that were waiting on their final licenses at the time of the report. The report states that at least one licensed retailer did not begin adult-use sales on opening day, citing the shortage of inventory in the new recreational sector.
As we have highlighted in prior reports, adult-use cultivators were only permitted a month ago to begin bringing in plants – not finished product – from the state’s existing medical cannabis program. While plants transferred from medical cultivators or caregivers could be fully mature and harvested immediately by their recipients in the adult-use sector, it still typically takes at least two to three weeks to dry, trim, package, and test product prior to sale. The manufacture and screening of extracts and infused products can take longer in some cases. The Press Herald report notes that there is one lab licensed to test product for Maine’s adult-use market.
Despite the imminent opening of the adult-use market, Maine’s Spot Index has been trending downward in recent weeks. The lack of a hike in wholesale flower prices ahead of adult-use sales could be due to the unique situation in Maine, where only plants were able to be sold from medical to adult-use businesses, rather than finished product. Additionally, with most currently-licensed growers associated with retailers, they are almost certainly keeping their finished flower in-house to stock their own storefronts.