New York: The Empire State Goes Green
In March of 2021, New York became the latest state to legalize adult-use cannabis — and to immediately expunge the records of people with certain marijuana convictions. That said, it could take up to two years for prospective adult-use cannabis businesses to get licensure and open sales to the public.
Meanwhile, existing players in the medical marijuana market, who are already licensed, have a head start. By 2023, the state expects its legal cannabis market to hit $1.2 billion in sales, pull in $362 million in excise and retail tax revenue, and hand out 350 retail licenses. Currently, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) recognizes eleven licenses. You can read more about them on the state’s site.
Connecticut: CT’s Cannabis Market is Ready to Bloom
In June of 2021, Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill that legalized possession of a small amount of marijuana and laid the foundation for its new cannabis industry. The bill also followed after another cannabis trend on the East Coast: expunging prior charges for marijuana possession. But that doesn’t mean state citizens can buy recreational cannabis from retail just yet.
Despite massive demand, adult-use retail stores won’t open until at least late 2022. One market projection by a cannabis trade publication thinks Connecticut could reach $725 million in annual sales by 2025. Compare that to the state’s medical-marijuana program, which reached between $140 million to $170 million in 2020. While the state’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) hasn’t released applications for licenses yet, they will in the next few months. Connecticut’s adult-use marijuana act, SB 1201, recognizes nine licenses. You can read more about them here.
New Jersey: The Garden State’s Green Future
New Jersey’s CREAMM Act legalized adult-use cannabis and set the stage for a new cannabis market. The new laws limit the number of growers to 37 for the first couple of years but provide no limits for retail outlets. It also expanded the medical marijuana program and, following the social equity cannabis trends on the East Coast, expunged some existing possession records and eased penalties for underage possession.
Legal adult-use sales in New Jersey, however, are still several months to a year away. Much like New York, New Jersey’s existing medical marijuana businesses will have a head start while retail businesses wrestle with infrastructure and licensure. Regardless, some analysts believe New Jersey can become a top player in the East Coast cannabis industry. According to New Frontier Data, recreational sales in NJ could reach $1 billion by 2023. The CREAMM Act recognizes six classes of licenses. You can read more about licensure from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
Maine: The Pine Tree State is Breaking Sales Records
Maine was one of the earliest additions to the East Coast cannabis industry, legalizing adult-use cannabis back in 2016. But it wasn’t until October of 2020 that marijuana businesses in the state could begin recreational sales. Since then, sales have been great. In fact, Maine broke another record in August, closing over $10.2 million in recreational marijuana sales.
And there’s no sign that it’s slowing down. MJBizFactbook projects that the state’s adult-use market could hit $300 million in annual sales within its first four to five years. So far, Maine has approved 53 retail stores, 24 manufacturing facilities, and 47 cultivation sites, making it a significant player in the cannabis industry of the East Coast. 2022 could be another stand-out year. Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy currently recognizes four licenses for adult-use cannabis operations, which you can learn more about on the state’s website.
Virginia: The Commonwealth Cannabis Market
In July of 2021, Virginia became the first Southern state to legalize adult-use cannabis, but cannabis sales in the Commonwealth won’t begin until 2024. Regardless, analysts agree that Virginia is a particularly exciting piece of the East Coast cannabis industry. Sharing its border with five medical marijuana states that haven’t yet made the jump to adult use, Virginia is very well-situated to take advantage of the growing cannabis industry.
So, while retail sales are still a few years off and businesses can’t apply for licenses just yet, Virginia could become a heavy hitter in the East Coast cannabis industry.
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