Do you want to know why the marijuana industry failed? Just look at Maine, a relatively well-known East Coast state that is seeing massive systemic failures in its medical cannabis program. Maine has lost more than 1,350 medical caregivers to cannabis since 2021, and that’s just the caregivers admitting that in a survey.
Between the end of 2021 and the end of January 2023, more than 1,350 caregivers left the Maine Medical Use of Cannabis Program (MMCP), resulting in a net loss of more than 800 caregivers. This departure affected the remaining caregivers, leading to several unverified claims about the reasons for this trend and why caregivers are still leaving the programme.
In early 2023, the Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP) conducted a survey of former caregivers To determine why so many registrants are leaving the programme. Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence, the survey aims to provide a more accurate understanding of the situation. Results indicated that market and business conditions were the main reasons for dropping out of the programme.
The decline in medical cannabis caregivers reached 27.5% of the program participants. This decline was a major setback for the programme. Both insiders and outsiders have offered speculations about the reasons behind these changes.
The OCP aims to collect data and analyze discussion while gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the policy implications of the caregiver program. To investigate this issue more systematically, OCP created a questionnaire to analyze the reasons behind caregivers leaving the programme.
A survey was conducted by emailing every caregiver who left the program between January 1, 2022 and January 31, 2023, with 1,339 individuals successfully contacted. Only 14 of the former caregivers did not have a valid email address on file. OCP received responses from 117 former caregivers over several weeks, representing a response rate of 8.7%.
While survey responses were anonymous, respondents could provide their contact information at the end of the survey. That is if they are willing to be contacted by OCP for possible follow-up in the future.
OCP received responses from individuals who previously engaged in authorized conduct in six categories. The majority of respondents, who make up 71.7%, were engaged in the cultivation of cannabis for direct sale or wholesale. This finding is not surprising for two reasons: First, because these two activities are the most common among caregivers in the program.
Secondly, the price of cannabis in the MMCP has dropped significantly due to higher production. Farmers are more vulnerable to market influences, which makes participants from those groups more likely to leave the MMCP. Therefore, finding a higher percentage of farmers among the survey participants is plausible.
The OCP conducted the survey design, implementation, and internal data collection and analysis. According to the OCP’s definition, an individual is considered to be discharged from the program if they allow their caregiver registration to expire, do not renew it, or withdraw voluntarily. Survey responses were collected between February 17, 2023 and March 17, 2023.
Among the former caregivers, the five most common responses were as follows:
- oversupply of products resulting in lower prices,
- labor costs
- utility costs
- Banking fees and regulations
- competition with the entertainment market.
The combined responses to these five factors accounted for 54.5% of the total 424 responses received. Of the 117 respondents, 68 (58.1%) chose a Increase the supply of products Which led to lower prices as one of the top five issues. In contrast, 57 (48.7%) chose utility costs as one of their top five reasons for leaving the programme.
These findings contrast sharply with speculation and rumor about what happened inside the MMCP. Some of the unverified claims focus on caregivers’ dissatisfaction with the OCP regulation. The data indicates that far fewer individuals hold this perspective. Only 16 participants (13.7%) cited OCP registration fees as their top five reasons for dropping out of the programme. Similarly, only 15 (12.8%) of the respondents identified the OCP Group’s statute and regulations as their top five reasons. These two answers combined accounted for only 7.3% of all responses.
Feedback from previous caregivers
The survey had an open section that allowed former caregivers to provide their reasons for leaving. This provides the benefit of hearing from a variety of opinions outside of the usual opinions the legislature hears from the medical community. While the voices of patients and caregivers are essential, OCP also values the input of those in the medical industry who may need to be more vocal on public platforms. Some former caregivers have expressed the need for more interest in participating in such discussions.
Some respondents reported that they or people they knew experienced economic and physical harassment or intimidation, which made them unwilling to speak out. As a result, they have expressed a lack of interest in participating in public platforms. OCP staff often receives comments and concerns from medical use program participants and adults who prefer to remain anonymous.
The purpose of the survey was to create a space for former caregivers to express their thoughts anonymously, even to OCP. This process allowed for unedited comments, including some critical notes about OCP. However, the criticism was not directed solely at the government. Five major areas of concern emerged, which are consistent with responses to the survey questions: lack of profit/overproduction, out-of-state firms and money, and The success of the entertainment market, bias towards corporate giants, and lack of cooperation from caregivers/illegal operations. It should be noted that some of the respondents provided answers that dealt with issues in multiple categories.
One disturbing finding from some of the responses is that few respondents were willing to engage in illegal activities. For example, one participant stated, “The industry is not profitable. I’d rather sell cannabis on the street. At least I’d make $7.25/hour.” Another respondent expressed, “I’d rather sell it illegally and make money than pay it to not be allowed to open a store.”
One of the surprising reasons MMJ presenters cited in the survey is that cannabis comes from other states to create an oversupply problem. This would stun the industry because Maine is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and New Hampshire Massachusetts. Maine is a pretty bad state when you pull off the ocean and a few lakes, so the fact that cannabis out of the state is making its way into Maine and underpriced on the black market is shocking and should be a wake-up call for the cannabis industry. If Maine has issues with cannabis out of state, and already has lower cost options within state borders, how “cheap” is it now in the cannabis industry?
If you are reading Cananbis.net Analysis of black market prices compared to legal market pricesYou will see some products up to 95% cheaper on the black market already. How can a low-cost state like Maine “beat the price” by weeding out of state? This indicates that the bottom prices are lower than what most analysts believe at the moment.
In the end, the Ex-Carer Survey provides key insights and a more comprehensive understanding of the stressors affecting MMCP operators. The primary factors behind carers’ decision to leave the program are related to market and labor conditions. The massive oversupply of cannabis and subsequent drop in prices has had a devastating impact, particularly as energy costs soared during the departure.
This finding contrasts with other speculation about reasons for caregivers leaving the program, such as very strict state regulations or high enrollment fees.