It’s been over a year now since Massachusetts legalized recreational cannabis and weed sales in the Bay State are booming. We’ve officially rung in the new year and the final numbers are rolling in, with the thirty-three cannabis dispensaries open across the state reporting gross sales totaling over $420M in 2019 alone.
This is according to data released in a report made by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission in December. Apparently, those numbers didn’t even include cannabis sales from the week of Christmas; an updated report is expected from the commission later this month.
Back in November, Cannabis Control Commission Chairman, Steven Hoffman, gave an interview to the online news source Mass Live, saying, “I feel proud of what we’ve accomplished and I’m pleased with how the rollout has gone to date but we are in the early stages and have a ton more work to do. I have no expectation there will be a retail store on every corner, but we have a lot more geographic expansion to do. That’s the biggest part of our job."
Going on, added Hoffman, “I’m not criticizing any city or town. Everyone is trying to do the right thing…[but] we can’t process applications without an agreement and that’s a factor on the pace of rollout. I think we’re missing an opportunity to substantially improve the lives of patients around the state. We need to figure out how to engage the medical community in this.”
As in many of the states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use in recent years, the state of Massachusetts has implemented a hefty tax rate of between 17% and 20% on all recreational cannabis sales. To break it down, this includes a combination of sales tax (6.25%), excise tax (10.75%) and an optional local tax (up to 3%).
Based on a rough calculation using those numbers, Massachusetts should have brought in at least $70M in tax revenue, money which has already been earmarked for multiple social justice efforts aimed at low-income communities and communities of color across the state, including funding going to public education, housing, and addiction services.
Just last month, Massachusetts Revenue Commissioner, Christopher Harding, said that the amount of tax revenue gathered from the sales of recreational cannabis this year was “fairly close to” what legislators were expecting.
At the state’s recent annual consensus revenue hearing, Harding told lawmakers of the Joint Ways and Means Committee to expect more of the same, saying, “We expect that revenues will continue to accelerate as retail outlets are licensed and open for business. However, from a revenue perspective, the legal marijuana market has not yet fully developed, and uncertainty remains around the rate at which the market will grow and how prices will change over time.”
Visiting Massachusetts soon? Find out where to legally purchase recreational cannabis here. Also be sure sure to become familiar with the state’s marijuana laws, including how much cannabis each individual is allowed to possess (either on your person or in your home).