Jan 31, 2020

Analysis: Legal Adult Cannabis Sales in Massachusetts Surpass Half a Billion Dollars Since Legalization

BOSTON — Legal adult cannabis sales in Massachusetts have surpassed half a billion dollars and raised approximately $100 million in cannabis tax revenue since they commenced in November 2018, according to an analysis of state data released Friday by Vicente Sederberg LLP, a national firm specializing in cannabis law and policy.

As of January 29, retailers had conducted approximately $509 million in adult cannabis sales, raising an estimated $86.5 million in tax revenue for the state government and an additional $15 million in tax revenue for local governments. Adult cannabis sales are subject to the state’s standard 6.25% sales tax, as well as a 10.75% excise tax. Local governments also have the option of taxing sales up to an additional 3%.

“Massachusetts' regulated adult-use cannabis market is still in its very initial stages, but it is already beginning to fulfill the promise of Question 4," said Adam Fine, managing partner of Vicente Sederberg's Boston office, who participated in the drafting of the successful 2016 legalization initiative. "Over the past 15 months, half a billion dollars in cannabis sales took place above board in licensed retail stores instead of in the illegal market. These businesses are creating jobs in their communities, and they are generating significant new revenue for our state and local governments. The benefits will only continue to grow as more retail stores get licensed across the state."

Average monthly cannabis sales increased 66% from the first six months of 2019 ($27.9 million) to the second six months ($46.3 million).

"Only a fraction of the business that applied for licenses have received approval to commence operations, so we are only experiencing a fraction of the benefits right now," Fine said. "State officials are working diligently to get through those applications, and we expect to see a number of new businesses coming online these next several months.”

According to the Cannabis Control Commission, 285 applications were submitted for licenses to conduct retail cannabis sales to adults across 169 municipalities. So far, at least 40 retail stores across 35 municipalities have received final licenses. Thirty-four of those stores are now open, while the other six are expected to open soon.

Cannabis flower (including buds and shake/trim) has accounted for about half of adult sales so far (50.2%), while concentrates (including vape products and kief) accounted for just over a quarter (25.8%). Infused edibles and topicals accounted for 16% and 3% of total sales, respectively, and pre-rolls (raw and infused) accounted for 5%.

"As long as there is demand for a wide array of cannabis products, there will be a supply of those products," Fine said. "Massachusetts has taken the responsible step of regulating them to ensure they are produced in a safe environment, tested, properly packaged and labeled, and sold only to adults.

"When it comes to controlling cannabis, prohibition failed. Massachusetts is among the growing number of states demonstrating that regulation works."

About Vicente Sederberg LLP 

Vicente Sederberg LLP (https://vicentesederberg.com) is a national cannabis law firm that has been on the leading edge of marijuana and hemp law and policy for more than a decade. It has approximately 100 employees, including more than 40 attorneys, working out of offices in Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Jacksonville. VS offers a full suite of corporate, legal, policy, regulatory, and research services for all types of licensed cannabis businesses, ancillary businesses, trade associations, nonprofits, and governmental bodies. Since its founding in 2010, the firm has helped shape marijuana and hemp policies across the nation and around the globe. It has also assisted clients in obtaining cannabis business licenses in 22 states and dozens of localities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Chambers and Partners USA ranked VS a Band 1 law firm in its inaugural "Cannabis Law" practice category, and National Law Journal recognized six of the firm's partners as "Cannabis Law Trailblazers" in its first two years of publishing the list.