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Medical Pot Is Now Maine's Most Valuable Crop

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press file
In this Nov. 21, 2014, file photo, medical marijuana is rolled into a joint in Belfast, Maine.

Cannabis has become the state’s most valuable agricultural products.

According to sales tax information, medical cannabis alone generated an estimated $222 million dollars in sales through October of this year, with strong sales expected through the fourth quarter as well.

“And it’s not surprising — we’ve known this for a long time,” says Catherine Lewis, board chair for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine Trade Association.

Lewis says it has been a challenge to get an accurate assessment of the industry as an economic driver for Maine. Only last year did the state begin to record sales tax ID numbers on each caregiver’s application, so that revenue could be tracked more accurately.

And she says some tweaks made in 2018 to how the industry operates have bolstered growth.

“Allowing for better business practices. Allowing caregivers to have employees. Allowing caregivers to open storefronts. Allowing caregivers to wholesale to each other. It allowed for real business,” Lewis says.

And she says the pandemic does not appear to be harming medical cannabis sales.

“Many storefronts are reporting increased sales, whereas other industries are quite the opposite,” Lewis says.

Lewis says some of her clients have had less money to spend this year, but others have been able to use the products more often because they’re working from home, and she says many Mainers are seeking relief from pain conditions, stress and anxiety during the pandemic.

Lewis says sales are also being bolstered by the addition of hemp products such as CBD.

Meanwhile, Maine’s new adult-use marijuana industry is just getting off the ground and has generated about $1.4 million in sales in its first month, according to the Office of Marijuana Policy.