BANGOR, Maine — When Maine's adult-use recreational marijuana market came online last October, it was tough to set expectations as the program opened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the pandemic's harsh grip on our daily life relaxed slowly, the growth of the recreational program in Maine grew exponentially. The growth budding to another month of record sales in May.
Although the official numbers won't be released until next week, Erik Gunderson, the Director of the Office of Marijuana Policy estimated dispensaries across Maine collected more than $5M in sales. He added that includes nearly $1M worth of product being sold on Memorial Day Weekend alone. "I think it’s a sign of things to come," Gunderson said.
This will be the first summer that folks age 21 and over can buy marijuana products legally in Maine. Gunderson said the timing is perfect as more licenses are being granted around the state, established stores are working with more local vendors, and shops are selling more products to consumers.
“[The program is] continuing to head in the right direction both in terms of revenue, in terms of active licenses, and when you talk about accessibility more and more towns start to opt. in," he added.
Firestorm Premium Craft Cannabis in Bangor was one of the first eight dispensaries to open in October 2020. Owner Mohammed Ibrahem said Memorial Day Weekend was busy at his shop and he's expecting more customers, and tourists to stop in this summer.
“We’re excited to provide them with services and allow them to see our great state and see our great businesses and we’re happy to be a part of it," he said. “We think that our sales and our growth is a great manifestation of the recovery the country and the state is experiencing right now."
Back when Firestorm and every other dispensary opened, it had limited product selection and the prices were high, Ibrahem added. Since then he said the store has doubled the number of vendors it's working with, all of which are Maine companies.
“We’re just excited to showcase more Maine-made products, you know that’s our slogan 'From Maine, For Maine'," he said.
Now, customers can buy edible products, THC-infused beverages, THC cartridges, and traditional flower at Firestorm and other dispensaries around the state.
Brandon Pollock is the CEO of Theory Wellness which has locations in South Portland, Waterville, and Bangor. He added his shops have also increased inventory selections in recent months.
“There are more and more cultivators and product manufactures getting licensed in the recreational program which adds a lot of variety to the menu which customers love," he said.
Pollock added his workers love it when it's busy and if the Memorial Day Weekend sales numbers are any indication, they will have to get used to it this summer.
“We’re hoping that, that trend continues and that more guests find us, and we can make their vacation a little more special up in Maine," Pollock said.