According to a survey by Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP), more than 1,350 medical cannabis caregivers left the program from the end of 2021 to the end of January 2023.
The survey found a variety of factors led to the exodus, including business costs, banking registrations and fees, municipal and OCP regulations, oversupply, competition from the adult-use and unregulated markets, lack of testing and tracking, no wholesale relationships, no connection to patients, switching to adult-use operations, and becoming a dispensary employee.
The majority of respondents (68 respondents) cited oversupply and low prices, and utility costs (57 respondents) as their impetus for leaving the caregiver program.
“The overproduction in the [Medical Marijuana Caregiver Program] has come as a result of legislative refusal to update the MMCP’s statutes in five years, even as the industry has transformed significantly. For example, with no inventory tracking system implemented for the medical program, it is impossible for OCP to ensure that program participants are sourcing their product from the regulated market and not diverting product to the illicit market.” — OCP, “Caregiver Exodus: Market Conditions and the Impact on Maine’s Medical Use of Cannabis Program”
In the survey, the OCP notes that the “findings depart dramatically from the rumors and speculation about what has happened within” the state’s medical cannabis program. The OCP said that the narrative that it was responsible for caregivers leaving the program was “unsubstantiated” as just 16 survey respondents said they left the program because of OCP regulations.
In all, the agency received responses from 117 former medical cannabis caregivers, just 8.7% of the 1,339 it contacted to take part in the survey.
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