Maryland medical marijuana sales hit $1 billion since launch in 2017

Biz Journals reports

This month, the Maryland cannabis industry hit a major milestone — reaching $1 billion in total retail sales.

About 40 months after retailers began selling medical cannabis in Maryland, dispensaries had collectively brought in more than $1 billion by early April, William Tilburg, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, noted during a public meeting last week. And given current growth pace, Tilburg said the MMCC anticipates $2 billion in sales will be achieved in about about half the time.

The state industry got off to a slow start in December 2017, but has been charting huge growth in recent months. Between 2019 and 2020, sales totals nearly doubled from $242 million to about $460 million. In 2019, quarterly sales totals averaged about $60.5 million, and in 2020, that quarterly figure grew to $115 million.

This year, sales in the first three months of the year surpassed $135 million. And Tilburg said the industry is on pace to rake in about $550 million in total this calendar year.

What accounts for this huge growth? Tilburg has attributed the surge to two simple variables: “more businesses and more patients.”

Between December 2019 and December 2020, the number of patients certified to receive medical cannabis in Maryland increased from 87,019 to 123,376, according to MMCC’s data. That’s a nearly 42% increase year over year. On average, about 3,000 additional patients became certified per month in 2020. Meanwhile, the pool of dispensaries cleared by regulators to sell medical cannabis products statewide grew by about 10%.

Demand growth shows no signs of slowing. The state’s certified patient pool grew to more than 125,335 people in January 2021 alone, MMCC data shows. The trend has prompted several of the state’s licensed cannabis growers to significantly expand their facilities and production capacity. For example, grow firm Culta invested about $6 million last year to triple the size of its outdoor growing capacity on the Eastern Shore. Cecil County’s SunMed Growers also recently completed an expansion of its greenhouse growing operation, which cost about $18 million, and is planning additional build outs this year.

The next milestone that is expected to significantly accelerate the growth of the Maryland market is the legalization of recreational, or “adult-use,” cannabis. The latest legislative effort to legalize an adult use market in this state failed to pass in the Maryland General Assembly this year. However, several other East Coast states — including New York, New Jersey and Virginia — pushed full legalization measures through in 2021. And industry research firm BDS Analytics projects Maryland will follow suit in 2022.

If that prediction holds, Maryland’s cannabis market is could be on track to achieve $1 billion in annual sales by 2024, according to BDSA. Kelly Nielsen, vice president of insights and analytics at BDSA, has noted about two-thirds of that volume will be attributable to adult-use sales specifically.


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