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Marijuana retailers in Maryland broke another record last month, selling nearly $92 million worth of products during August, the state’s second month of legal adult-use sales. That’s a jump from July’s $87 million in receipts and more than double the typical sales numbers from when the market was open only to medical patients.
Newly released data from the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) indicates that licensed stores sold more than $91.7 million last month, overwhelmingly in the form of smokeable flower ($55.1 million). After that came concentrates ($24.7 million), infused edibles ($6.2 million), infused non-edibles ($5.2 million), shake or trim ($512,991) and cannabis plants themselves ($9,588).
Cannabis sales surged in the state in July as a law took effect allowing the state’s existing medical dispensaries to begin selling to all adults 21 and older. With nearly a hundred dispensaries opening to adult-use sales at once, retailers sold more than $10 million worth of marijuana products on opening weekend.
Much of the state’s market is dominated by so-called multi-state operators, or MSOs—corporate cannabis companies doing business in multiple jurisdictions. Among them, Curaleaf, Verano, Green Thumb Industries (GTI), TerrAscend and Ascend saw the highest sales numbers in Maryland last month, according to Jesse Redmond, head of cannabis at Water Tower Research.
MSO stores in Maryland pic.twitter.com/CHJEf9ichn
— Jesse Redmond (@jesseredmond) September 5, 2023
In addition to existing dispensaries, Maryland officials will also begin accepting applications for social equity marijuana business licenses later this year. Last week MCA announced its Social Equity Verification Portal, which will allow prospective applicants to check their eligibility for the new licenses beginning on Friday. The first round of new marijuana grower, processor and retailer licenses will be issued exclusively to equity applicants.
Equity applicants are defined as those whose business is at least 65 percent owned by people who’ve lived in a designated “disproportionately impacted area” for a minimum of five of the last 10 years. They must also have attended a public school in such an area for at least five years, or attended a four-year college in Maryland where at least 40 percent of the students are eligible for a federal Pell Grant.
The portal announcement came the same day that MCA’s Office of Social Equity released data on eligible zip codes, public schools and colleges, so people can start looking into their eligibility even before the verification tool is available.
Sales of adult-use cannabis are taxed at 9 percent in Maryland, with medical purchases exempt. That means several million dollars have already come in to state coffers as the result of the policy change.
The state’s handling of tax revenue recently came under fire from a prohibitionist group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which accused the Maryland Office of the Comptroller of engaging in “an active effort to protect the banks who are breaking federal law.”
The allegation came after media reports, including in Marijuana Moment, published comments made by Rob Scheerer, director of the Maryland Office of the Comptroller’s Revenue Administration Division, at a Maryland Association of Counties conference last month. “In order to protect the banks, we can’t even call this cannabis on the tax return,” he said, adding that “We have craftily called this sale ‘A sale subject to the 9 percent rate under Senate Bill 516 of 2023.”
Both the Office of the Comptroller and its banking provider for the matter, Wells Fargo, have said they comply with the law.
Sheerer noted at the time that while some businesses had already submitted tax payments, “the lion’s share of this revenue is really going to come in late October.”
MCA’s Andrew Garrison said in July that the state was uniquely prepared for the implementation of the marijuana legalization law, which followed deep study from lawmakers and voter approval of a reform initiative at the ballot last year.
As regulators assess the first months of recreational marijuana sales, Garrison said, officials are also actively working on a “cleanup bill” to adjust regulations that he expects will be taken up by the legislature during the next session.
Meanwhile, a separate Maryland law also took effect in July that prevents police from using the odor or possession of marijuana alone as the basis of a search. Yet another law that went into force makes it so the lawful and responsible use of cannabis by parents and guardians cannot be construed by state officials as child “neglect.”
Other states with legal cannabis have also seen record sales numbers recently. Four Northeastern states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island—each hit new records for cannabis purchases in July.
Illinois retailers sold $140 million worth of recreational marijuana products in July—the strongest sales of the year and second highest monthly total for the state since the adult-use market launched in 2020. Even though prices in that state are higher than most, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) recently noted, the industry keeps growing. An estimated 30 percent of sales comprise purchases from out-of-state visitors.
Missouri retailers have been selling about $4 million worth of marijuana per day on average since the state’s adult-use market opened up in February—and the state saw a record $121.2 million in cannabis purchases in June.
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.