PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine is known for its wild blueberries and potatoes but marijuana has surpassed them to become the state’s most valuable crop.
Medical marijuana sales totaled $221.8 million from January through October, more than double what had been sold by the same time last year, the Portland Press Herald reported, based on state sales tax figures. That compares to $184.1 million for potatoes, $123.6 million for milk and $26 million for blueberries in 2019.
The pandemic didn’t slow down sales of weed.
“What we’ve learned is that no matter what, Americans are going to get their cannabis, alcohol, baking supplies and cars, regardless of the economy,” said Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group.
Maine recorded more than $100 million in sales last year, the first time Maine was able to tabulate all legal medical marijuana sales. Year-to-date sales in 2020 show the market has doubled yet again, growing 152%.
The figures include sales from Maine’s eight medical marijuana dispensaries and a network of almost 3,000 registered caregivers serving about 65,000 certified medical marijuana patients. Maine only began tracking sales tax data for caregivers last year.
The state’s year-to-date numbers do not include recreational marijuana, which totaled $1.4 million in October, the first month stores opened. The recreational market was limited by a relatively small number of store openings and widespread supply shortages and purchase limits. In contrast, medical marijuana sales in October totaled $22 million.
A lot of medical marijuana patients are “looking for relief” from the anxiety of the pandemic, said Eric Maxim, a China resident and caregiver of seven years who opened Cannamax in Augusta in October 2019.
"We saw the lockdown coming and didn’t know what to expect, but our business has continued to grow throughout,” said Maxim, who launched the store with his wife.