In the first seven days since Maryland ended the prohibition on possession and use of cannabis, licensed dispensaries sold $20.9 million in legal weed products, according to the Maryland Cannabis Administration.

Around half of the seven-day total, $10.4 million, was made during the opening weekend, according to state reports.

“The state of Maryland was very busy,” said Chris Harvey, general manager of Panacea Wellness dispensary in Annapolis. Harvey said he’s seen consistent foot traffic and a sharp, five-to-10-fold increase in the number of daily transactions in the first week of recreational sales compared to the first month his shop opened in October selling only to medical cannabis customers.

Before recreational sales “we could go an hour without seeing people in the building,” he said. But both his recreational and medical product sales are strong, he said.

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However, he doesn’t expect the surge to last forever, he said.

“Some of this novelty will wear off soon,” he said, cautioning that seven days of data does not a market indicator make. And as new dispensaries start up next year, he expects the market will become more competitive.

Darren Weiss, president of Verano, operator of four Zen Leaf retail locations in Maryland, said in a statement he’s “encouraged by the strong start to adult use cannabis sales in Maryland.”

“We often see an uptick in demand following the initial launch of adult use sales, and with sales in Maryland predicted to reach $1 billion by 2025, there is a significant opportunity for cannabis businesses and the overall economy to benefit,” he said.

The Maryland Cannabis Administration anticipates the industry will reap $600 million in retail sales during the first year of adult-use cannabis legalization. At the current 9% tax rate, the state would take in $54 million to cover government oversight costs, fund community reinvestment efforts and public health initiatives and distribute revenues to counties and municipalities.

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In the first six months of 2023, medical dispensaries reported an average of $27.6 million in monthly sales. The largest monthly retail revenue was in June — $42.6 million.

Maryland voters approved legalizing adult use cannabis by a 2-to-1 margin in a 2022 ballot referendum. Adults 21 and over are allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 12 grams of concentrated cannabis products or a total amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg of THC.

Brenda Wintrode covers state government, agencies and politics. Before joining The Baltimore Banner, Wintrode wrote an award winning series of long form investigations for Wisconsin Watch.

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