The state of Maine is stuck in political limbo when it comes to recreational marijuana, and that limbo appears to be hurting the state's medical marijuana industry.
Marijuana Business Daily reports that Maine's medical marijuana industry saw a major decline in 2017 compared with 2016. Last year, medical cannabis sales dropped nine percent from $26.6 million to $24.5 million, and the number of certified medical marijuana patients in the state dropped by 18 percent from 51,297 to 41,858.
In 2016, Maine voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state. However, the Maine Governor Paul LePage has refused to sign any legislation to actually implement recreational marijuana laws in the state. So while it is currently legal for Maine citizens to possess or grow their own marijuana, the sale of cannabis remains illegal.
Many believe this confusion about marijuana laws is part of the reason for the decrease in sales. Maine citizens decided to not renew their medical marijuana certifications thinking that the state would soon implement recreational laws. And others are simply buying from the black market with less fear because they can't get punished for possession anymore (although it's still illegal to purchase non-medical marijuana in the state).
2018 could see even greater decreases for Maine's marijuana industry. Vermont and Massachusetts are legalizing marijuana this summer, and both of those states are within driving distance of Maine. So Maine citizens could take a weekend trip to those states, stock up on cannabis and go home, and they'd be perfectly legal doing so since marijuana use is currently legal thanks to that ballot initiative.
Luckily, LePage is facing the end of his term this year and cannot run for re-election. So Maine voters will select a new governor this November, and will almost certainly pick someone who will actually implement these marijuana laws.
(h/t Marijuana Business Daily)