Keri-Jon Wilson likes to think of Tara Canaday, the executive chef at Portland’s Pot and Pan, as “the stoner whisperer.”
Whether she’s whipping up cannabis-infused goodies like gingerbread-flavored bonbons or a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos French macaron, she knows the classically trained Canaday will deliver.
“People are always looking for the next thing they’ve got to try,” said Wilson, co-owner and general manager of Pot and Pan, a medical cannabis manufacturer that is among several Maine marijuana businesses gearing up for entry into the adult-use market.
As the state’s legal market for cannabis edibles starts to mature, it is expected to undergo significant expansion and diversification. Myriad colors, shapes and flavors are poised to explode onto the market, which industry experts hope will attract a new consumer base.
But the products look and taste like traditional sweets, which can make them highly appealing to children. Annual emergency room visits involving kids who had ingested THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, increased fivefold in Massachusetts in the two years after the state opened its market for recreational edibles and other adult-use cannabis products.
State officials in Maine also are concerned about the potential for adults to be hospitalized after eating too many THC-infused products. They have imposed strict dosage requirements for edibles, though such limits can’t prevent consumers from eating multiple servings.
Traditional, smokable marijuana flower dominates and will continue to dominate Maine’s recreational market, accounting for nearly 65 percent of the roughly $13 million in sales since adult-use product sales launched in October.
Experts agree that flower won’t be bumped from its No. 1 spot, but its percentage share does appear to be shrinking as more manufacturing sites come on line and the product line diversifies.
Infused products, the category that the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy uses to track drinks, edibles, capsules, suppositories and topicals, accounts for about 14 percent of the market overall, but sales data suggests it’s increasing.
In March, the category captured about 16 percent of sales.
Kelly Nielsen, vice president of insight and analytics at BDSA, a Colorado-based cannabis data and analytics firm, estimates edibles hold about 10 percent of the overall market.
That number is expected to grow. In most mature legal cannabis markets, edibles make up about 13 to 14 percent of total product sales.
Wilson said Pot and Pan hopes to officially launch in the adult-use market this summer, with a state-of-the-art facility in the works and a retail facility in Portland later this year.
The company hopes to make a name…