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Recreational cannabis sales nearly doubled in Maine last year

Maine Marijuana
Robert F. Bukaty
FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2017, file photo, a marijuana plant grows under artificial light at an indoor facility in Portland, Maine. State officials have deemed dozens of applications to run marijuana businesses to be complete, a major step on the way to the first legal sales of the drug for adult use. Mainers voted in favor of legal recreational marijuana use and sales in 2016.

Recreational cannabis sales nearly doubled in Maine last year.

According to data from Maine's Office of Cannabis Policy, nearly $159 million of cannabis products were sold in 2022. That's compared to nearly $82 million the year before.

John Hudak, the director of the Office of Cannabis Policy, said the state has seen a 20% increase in the number of dispensaries over the past six months. He said the increase has drawn more consumers away from illegal sales and into the legal market.

More than 110 recreational cannabis stores have been approved by the state so far.

"And we have a lot of applications in the queue right now," Hudak said. "So the expectation, as I said, is for real growth over the next few years in this space."

And Hudak believes the growth of those storefronts can reduce the stigma around cannabis use, particularly for older consumers.

"They're having access to a variety of products, that are a little less intimidating to them, a little more discrete. And that is really motivating new consumers into the market," he said.

The emergence of the regulated adult use market in Maine took almost four years of rule-making after voters approved legalization in 2016.

Hudak says the initial, fast growth of the industry was expected, and has been seen in other states.