“It’s a pretty big difference,” said Michael Sovis, director of research at Cannabis Public Policy Consulting, which conducted the study. He predicted a strong retail market in Maryland.
Sofis and Mackenzie Slade, the company’s director, shared their findings Thursday with a working group on the legalization of marijuana. More than 1 in 3 adults said they use cannabis at least on a monthly basis, and 1 in 5 said they use marijuana on a daily or almost daily basis — averages that correlate with what is seen nationally.
But Marylanders consumed more marijuana than others nationwide, using a monthly average of 25.4 grams compared to the 20.2 grams consumed by residents of states with legal cannabis, according to the study.
Sovis said the survey also found that marijuana consumers are willing to drive 11 to 20 minutes to buy cannabis and will pay $14 a gram for it.
“It was really shocking to me,” Sofis said. “It reflects a certain level [of]I wouldn’t say a passion, but a latent drive to cannabis.”
Thursday’s briefing comes less than a week before the General Assembly returns to Annapolis for its 90-day session, at which a framework is being worked out. Legalization of marijuana It will be one of her top priorities. Voters in November agreed to a referendum To allow recreational marijuana to become legal for adults 21 and older on July 1.
Lawmakers will decide how the system works, including who will issue licenses and how taxes will be collected and distributed. The state has Medical marijuana program, which remains open to Maryland residents with medical marijuana cards.
Although Maryland is following its regional neighbors in legalizing marijuana, neither Virginia nor D.C. has established a legal retail market, leaving the trade in a gray area.
The behavioral economics study estimated that total demand in Maryland during the first year of implementation was 824 million grams of cannabis “across all cannabis sources,” which includes domestic, medical and illicit sales.
Advisers said demand in Maryland is likely to be in the 15 to 20 percent higher of all states. said Sofis, who recommended at least 300 dispensaries with a tax rate of no more than 15-20 percent.
Slade said states are “walking a tightrope” trying to make sure they don’t finish or cut back on demand.
Lawmakers grappling with how to stand in the legal retail market said they worry about oversupply, noting that many states have seen a glut and, as a result, their sales are starting to decline.
Senator Brian J.
Slade said it’s important for Maryland to allow regulators to use “production management tools” to prevent a system from becoming overwhelmed.
Feldman also wondered if there was an increase in people consuming marijuana through foods rather than smoking.
Sofis said they’re seeing exponential increases in food use, not just in Maryland but nationwide. “This trend continues and planning for the future is smart,” he said.