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Business and Economy

Analysis: Maine recreational marijuana marketplace reports more than $50M in sales its first year

Maine Marijuana
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
Marijuana is sold at Theory Wellness, a cannabis retail store, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in South Portland, Maine.

An economic analysis of Maine's fledgling recreational marijuana industry shows that in its first full year, sales quickly shot up to more than $50 million.

Economist Michael Donihue and students in the Colby College economics lab found that after businesses began selling recreational marijuana in Sept. 2020, sales ratcheted up an average of 20% every month.

Donihue says he was surprised by the rate of growth.

"Initially this was done a lot locally. It wasn't a lot of outside groups coming in and starting this up. These were Mainers who were doing this," he says. "And the state did a pretty good job actually of regulating the industry in terms of vetting the licensing process and make sure the licensing was being done at different levels of the supply chain."

He says the sector appears to have created a stable base of in-state customers — although sales did rise significantly during big tourist months. Sales in the market's first twelve months totaled $58.5 million, he says, bringing in state tax receipts worth $5.85 million.

Donihue estimates that the industry supported some 900 direct and indirect jobs. He adds that the Maine marketplace probably can't sustain that initial growth rate, and some consolidation can be expected.