Columbia-based cannabis business Remedy Maryland is already expanding its retail footprint to three locations. Photo by Scott Maucione/WYPR.

Maryland residents are expected to consume copious amounts of cannabis — as much as 1.8 million pounds of marijuana plants grown mostly in state — at least that’s what consultants told state lawmakers on Thursday. For the state to capture its best return on such a growing market, analysts told Maryland General Assembly lawmakers this week that levying a tax rate no higher than 20% would be ideal for state coffers and consumer market dynamics.

The projections were provided by Cannabis Public Policy Consulting, a research group that’s helping inform the Maryland legislature about its next steps to open the recreational marijuana market on July 1.

All that weed is not just medical marijuana. Those projections include consumer demand for both the legal regulated market and the so-called ‘gray market’ where products are sold and resold outside of the regulated dispensaries.

The consultants said that overall, it shows tremendous opportunity for businesses preparing to sell recreational marijuana after legalization begins.

“The linear growth suggested that the sales will hit $240 million per month, pretty rapidly,” Michael Sofis, director of research at Cannabis Public Policy Consulting, told the House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup on Thursday. “It shows is there’s a lot of variability, in a good way, a lot of room for growth and that’s that first six months.”

To harness that demand for the benefit of the state, Maryland needs to walk a fine line of taxing marijuana, while also keeping prices reasonable so people won’t turn to illegal methods or go to other states to get their desired products.

Sofis said that a tax rate of 15% to 20% should be the sweet spot for Maryland. He added that the state will need about 300 dispensaries to contain the initial demand.

Read more at WYPR.

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