Revenue from the sales of medical marijuana in Maryland is expected to hit $100 million in 2018, double what some forecasted for the first year of the state’s program.

Data from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission shows that from December 2017 — when dispensaries first opened their doors — through to the end of September 2018, there have been $68.7 million worth of sales of medical marijuana products across the state. Sales in August and September exceeded $10 million per month, and if that trend holds through the remaining months of the year, overall sales in Maryland will top $100 million.

According to data from one medical marijuana forecaster cited by The Baltimore Sun, that’s more than double the $46 million in sales initially expected for 2018.

“We’ve been growing month to month. Our sales have definitely been on an upward trend, and things are looking good,” said Zeina Frayha, the founder of HerbaFi, an independently owned and operated dispensary that opened in downtown Silver Spring in May. “Every day we’re registering more and more patients.”

As of November 5, there were 70,356 registered medical marijuana patients in Maryland, and roughly 70 licensed dispensaries. There were more than 265,000 transactions at medical marijuana dispensaries in September, data shows, double the amount in April. From December 2017 to September 2018, 542,767 infused marijuana products and 7,650 pounds of dry marijuana were sold throughout Maryland.

Medical marijuana became legal in Maryland in 2013, but it took four years to write the regulations and license growers, processors and sellers. And even when sales started in late 2017, the few dispensaries that were open faced long lines and shortages of marijuana to sell. Now that the industry is chugging along at an increasingly rapid pace, there are other challenges, says Frayha.

“We’re a small mom-and-pop shop. There’s a lot of out-of-state companies that have been consolidating the Maryland market. They’re coming in and buying more than one license,” she said. “For us as a small company, that’s a concern.”

Earlier this month the Baltimore Sun reported on possible license purchases by medical marijuana companies based in California and Massachusetts, raising fears that they were trying to monopolize the market in Maryland’s year-old program. Like in some other states, Maryland allows local companies to apply for licenses to grow, process and sell marijuana, a structure known as “vertical integration.”

But Frayha says that this process can put independent operators only licensed to sell medical marijuana at a disadvantage since they rely on other operators to grow and process the marijuana and they can also turn around and sell directly to patients at better prices than retailers.

Source: WAMU 88.5
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