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Maryland Saw Marijuana Market Spike In December, Setting New Monthly Record To Cap Off $787.5 Million In 2023 Sales

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Overall sales of marijuana in Maryland set a new monthly record to close out 2023, with nearly $96.5 million in combined purchases between the state’s medical and adult-use markets.

Recreational sales, which have set new records every month since the market opened in July, tallied more than $61.5 million in December, while medical sales came to just under $35 million—an uptick of more than a million dollars in purchases by patients from the month before, but notably less than typical medical marijuana sales prior to the opening of adult-use stores.

All told, the state saw $787.5 million worth of legal marijuana products sold in 2023—even with the recreational market launching halfway into the year.

The sales data is published by the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA), though the figures reported differ between two separate data polls that MCA makes available. A 2023 sales report, for example, says December’s adult-use sales totaled $61,506,086.25, while a separate data dashboard shows $61,519,168 in recreational sales for the month.

Similar discrepancies can be found between the two data sources going back to the launch of legal sales, for both medical and adult-use markets.

David Torres, deputy chief of communications and outreach for MCA, told Marijuana Moment that the “discrepancies in published sales data are due to ongoing reconciliations between dispensary point-of-sale systems and Maryland Cannabis Administration’s seed-t0-sale tracking system (Metrc)” but did not specify which number was accurate.

As for government revenue from cannabis purchases, state officials reported last month that Maryland brought in more than $12 million in marijuana taxes during the first quarter of legal sales to adults, which kicked off on July 1.

More than a third of the tax revenue—35 percent, or about $4.3 million—will be funneled into the state’s Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund, which is intended to support communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition.

Another three disbursements of just over $600,000 each will go to local governments, the state’s cannabis public health fund and a state cannabis business assistance fund, according to the comptroller’s office report, while another roughly $6 million will be deposited into the state’s general fund.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) said at the time that the “strong revenues” so far “reflect the strength of the rollout of Maryland’s newly formed adult recreational cannabis industry,” saying the money is “critical to supporting social equity and economic growth, which are central” to his administration’s values.

As the state’s legal market continued to get off the ground last year, regulators in September officially opened the first round of applications for new adult-use marijuana dispensary, cultivation and processing licenses, which was reserved exclusively for social equity businesses.

The licensing round includes 75 dispensary, 16 grower and 32 processor licenses and will eventually more than double the number of legal retailers in the state. Currently only existing medical marijuana dispensaries that converted to dual licenses are serving adult consumers.

MCA previously unveiled an online portal in September that allows people to check their eligibility for a social equity marijuana business license.

In October, MCA issued guidance to existing marijuana operators meant to help minimize the risk of burglaries and other crimes at licensed cannabis businesses amid what they said was an uptick in thefts targeting dispensaries across the state.

A Maryland tax official said earlier last year that the state had to find an unusual workaround with Wells Fargo in order to avoid clearly identifying marijuana tax revenue on financial forms—a policy that prohibitionists subsequently asked a federal prosecutor to investigate.

A separate Maryland law also took effect in July that prevents police from using the odor or possession of marijuana alone as the basis of a search. And another law that went into force making it so the lawful and responsible use of cannabis by parents and guardians cannot be construed by state officials as child “neglect.”

Republican lawmakers, however, are already aiming to undo the law that prevents police from stopping or searching people and vehicles based on the smell of marijuana, claiming the measure has put motorists at risk and taken away an important tool used by law enforcement to seize people’s firearms.

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.

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