New Report Shows Medical Cannabis “Caregiver Exodus” In Maine

“Nobody with a small business can afford to compete with the over saturated market”

If your friends are anything like our friends, then they’re always telling you how they go to Maine for their cannabis—either for the low-low prices, to steer clear of nefarious multi-state operators, or because a particular brand of bubble hash is only available six hours north of here in a storefront located inside of a tree.

But while their are truths as well as some hyperbole in all that hipster jazz, according to a new report from Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP) on the Maine Medical Use of Cannabis Program (MMCP), there’s another side of that state’s cannabis economy to consider since doors first opened for adult-use sales in 2020. Regarding the impact on their medical program in particular, in which caregivers are licensed to cultivate plants for specific patients, Maine “saw over 1350 caregivers exit the program from the end of 2021 to the end of January 2023.” Furthermore, “the impacts of this exodus—a net loss of over 800 caregivers—have been felt by the remaining caregivers.” As well as by care receivers, no doubt.

As the OCP explained in its summary, “rather than relying on anecdotal evidence, in early 2023, the OCP surveyed former caregivers to gain a better understanding of why so many registrants exited the program.” “The results show that business and market conditions were the central drivers of program exits rather than other narratives, such as state regulations being too arduous and costly for most caregivers to operate.”

State researchers “received responses from 117 former caregivers—a response rate of 8.7%,” with the “top five most common responses among former caregivers” being: “Over supply of product/lower prices; Utility costs; Business costs; Banking regulations/fees; Competition with the Adult Use market.” Overall, “over supply of product/lower prices” was selected as a top five issue by 58.1% 68 of respondents, while “utility costs” was selected as a top five reason by 48.7%.”

“We have allowed big businesses to come in and open recreational cannabis grows and stores,” one former caregiver said in their response to OCP. “Nobody in the public domain wants to pay $50 for a medical card.”

They continued, “Nobody with a small business can afford to compete with the over saturated market, at a time when prices are going up on electricity and rent (more than double) the recreational market has destroyed medical simply by growing more and dropping prices to rock bottom. Incidentally, our medical market is flooded with caregivers that are forced to sell illegally on the side just to survive in today’s market.”

You can read the whole OCP report here.