Maine's Office of Cannabis Policy ("OCP") released its Maine Office of Cannabis Policy Cannabis Markets & Associated Outcomes - Survey Findings and Implication (the "Report") that was prepared independently by the Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. According to the Report's summary, "[t]he study was designed to examine trends in cannabis consumption and market patterns in Maine as a function of the source by which consumers access cannabis (i.e., various, illicit, and regulated sources). Participants were recruited online between November 15 and December 28, 2021." The following were the critical takeaways outlined in the Report:
- About 64% of cannabis accessed for consumption among past-month cannabis users in Maine is estimated to come from a regulated or otherwise legal source; 36% is from an illicit source.
- When accounting for the time since the first adult-use store was opened in Maine, the current in-state illicit market is likely smaller than in most other states with adult-use cannabis laws, suggesting Maine is likely effectively curbing the illicit market at a greater rate than most other states with adult-use laws when accounting for how long adult-use stores have been open.
- Those who prioritize their source of cannabis highly and those who are younger are more likely to get their cannabis from adult-use stores and to have transitioned to adult-use stores since January of 2021.
- Living in a ZIP code with 1+ adult-use store is associated with a significant increase in how much of one's cannabis use is sourced from adult-use stores, even after accounting for age, gender, medical cannabis patient status, and illicit cannabis sourcing. This suggests that the presence of an adult-use store may incentivize consumers to access some of their cannabis from the regulated market.
- ZIP codes that do not have adult-use stores that also demonstrate moderate to high levels of willingness to pay for adult-use cannabis may present relevant locations for future adult-use stores to further transition consumers to the regulated market.
- Sub-state analyses within ZIP codes, like the state-wide data, showed that greater reliance on accessing cannabis through dealers and medical sources related to greater Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC), but accessing cannabis through adult-use stores did not relate to either negative health outcome.
- Based on Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) screening questions placed in the survey, 1 in every 10 Mainers meet the criteria for CUD, and 1 in every 3 Mainers who use cannabis at least monthly meet the criteria for CUD, a finding relevant for ensuring access to CUD treatment.
- About six times more individuals who use cannabis at least monthly get their cannabis exclusively from adult-use stores, compared to those who only get their cannabis from an illicit source (6% vs.1%).
- Over half (54%) of consumers who purchase from home-based caregivers do not have a medical card.
- Similarly, approximately 1 in 3 consumers who purchase at medical dispensaries or from caregivers with retail storefronts do not have a medical card (33%).
- Consumers who purchase from medical sources consume more grams on average than adult-use consumers.
- For every $1 of demand for adult-use cannabis in Maine, there is about $2 of supply. This finding is very consistent with proportions achieved and anticipated elsewhere, and this achievement comes only 1 year after industry standup.
- When using many documented assumptions that favor results towards a balanced estimate of a medical market demand-to-supply ratio, there is about $1 in demand for every $6 of supply, suggesting the medical market is oversupplied relative to the adult-use market and desirable ratios achieved in other states.
One of the interesting points mentioned above is that the data "suggests that the presence of an adult-use store may incentivize consumers to access some of their cannabis from the regulated market." This point has been made in the past. The more municipalities that opt into the regulated marketplace (Medical or Adult Use), the better chance of reducing the illicit marketplace. As of June 13, 2022, 96 cities, towns, townships and plantations have opted into some form of the Adult Use cannabis program according to the OCP. Out of the 96, only 50 have permitted Adult Use cannabis retail stores. Of those 50 municipalities, some have placed significant restrictions, such as caps or restrictive zoning that have prevented the growth of cannabis retail stores in their community. It should be noted that Maine has roughly 500 municipalities with some that have not opted into Adult Use retail stores but have allowed Caregiver Retail Stores or Dispensaries under Maine's Medical Cannabis Program.
Another interesting finding that will certainly require further research is that the data "showed that greater reliance on accessing cannabis through dealers and medical sources related to greater Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC), but accessing cannabis through adult-use stores did not relate to either negative health outcome." According to the AHP, "Maine's CUD population prevalence identified in this study (~10%) is low comparative to other states with legal cannabis laws, with other states averaging closer to 15%, or roughly 1 in 7 people. It should also be noted that, per this report and the manuscript in preparation, that CUD rates are not a direct result of cannabis legalization." (emphasis added).
Caseiro Burke shares this information for informational purposes only and does not endorse nor affirm any of its findings or methodology. While AHP believes this is the " largest surveys to date on cannabis use patterns, illicit and regulated market activities, and cannabis-related public health outcomes in Maine", it appears there were only 1,129 participants for the state-wide results and 1,934 participants for the sub-state results. The survey was only issued to those 21+ years of age according to the AHP and did not take into account tourists or visiting qualifying patients. According to the OCP, “no rulemaking or departmental bills will result from this research in the next session.”
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John M. Burke manages the firm's Maine cannabis law practice. Mr. Burke advises and represents the firm's clients throughout Maine in both the Medical and Adult Use cannabis programs in a wide range of Maine cannabis law matters. In addition to Mr. Burke's Maine cannabis law practice, Mr. Burke advises and assists the firm's clients in a variety of industries on various intellectual property matters throughout the United States. Learn more about John Burke by clicking here.
Caseiro Burke is a boutique law firm that specializes in intellectual property law and cannabis compliance and licensing in the State of Maine. We offer clients creative, cost-effective and reliable legal solutions in all intellectual property and Maine cannabis law matters.