Numbers coming out of Maine Revenue Services report that medical marijuana sales in the Pine Tree State have increased nearly 50% from 2014 to 2015.
Last year, Maine’s licensed dispensaries took in $23.6 million in revenue — a 46% increase from $16.2 million in 2014— as more Mainers sought relief from medical marijuana. This year’s sales generated $1.29 million in taxes for the state.
“There are a number of factors at play here,” said Becky DeKeuster of the Wellness Connection. “The first would be that Mainers are becoming more used to the idea of therapeutic cannabis. We’ve had a very successful dispensary program for five years now, and people are becoming used to this option.”
As the social stigma of marijuana fades each year across the nation — hey, even the reddest states are debating legalization — more people who live in medical marijuana states feel comfortable trying it as an alternative to painkillers or opiates. At least, they certainly did in Maine.
Behind treatment of chronic pain, the second and third most common ailments patients seek to treat in the state are PTSD and cancer.
"Physicians and patients both are looking for a pain relief solution that is natural," DeKeuster said.
The news comes as activists from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol prepare submit a petition to get recreational legalization on the 2016 ballot in Maine — a petition with over 90,000 signatures.
“We know that marijuana is safer than alcohol and has therapeutic benefits for a lot of different people for a lot of different ailments,” said David Boyer, head of the Campaign. “Polling looks good for legalization passing this year. We’re going to be turning in our signatures very soon.”