The Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Is A Billion Dollar Marketplace

Cannabis business consulting firm Nucleus One recently released the findings of their February 2021 Massachusetts Adult-Use Marijuana Market Report. Nucleus-One tracks and analyzes data from the Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts. February’s report heralded good news for the Commonwealth’s cannabis industry after a short-lived decline in sales in 2020. Since the decline, December and January 2021 saw unprecedented sales, with over 98 active retailers in the state. This growth is due to higher sales in product categories other than flower shares, which hit an all-time low in December. 

The Commonwealth’s uptick isn’t confined to the retail space, as the largest Massachusetts operator (measured by active agents), NETA, and its parent company Parallel prepare to go public following a SPAC Agreement with Ceres Acquisition Corp. On the regulatory front, the CCC published new Medical and Adult Use Regulations in January, which will create a more hospitable environment for this thriving market. Also supportive of 2021’s promising growth are Northampton’s move to waive the community impact fee of 3% on gross sales for cannabis businesses and upcoming discussions about eliminating the vertical integration requirement for medical operators.

The last ten years saw a dramatic increase in consumption and there is every reason to believe that the trend will continue. The number of final licenses granted is up 134 percent from January 2020, with January 2021 sales up 68 percent from the previous year. The number of employees in Massachusetts’ cannabis industry rose by 72 percent from last year, and operators harvested 48 percent more plants than a year earlier.

Licensing can be a long, laborious and expensive process for entrepreneurs to navigate, but on that front, too, there is encouraging news. The number of final licenses in the Commonwealth has more than doubled over the past year and a record 25 final licenses were granted in January. A total of 724 licenses have been approved and 389 provisionally approved across the Commonwealth, though marijuana is still banned or partially banned in over 120 communities in the state. Boston in particular has the highest number of pending retailer licenses, with Brockton coming in a strong second. Smaller operators make up the majority of the 571 new active agents added by the Commonwealth, with all but 8 of the top 25 operators increasing their number of active agents compared to data from December

With daily sales averaging $2.8 million in January 2021, the Massachusetts adult-use market is now worth $1 billion annually, which is certainly correlated with the spike in the number of retail locations from 33 in December 2019 to 94 by December 2020. Sales benefited from a holiday shopping boost, and have sustained that momentum at around $30k per day per store well into 2021. Despite changing buyer behavior, such as steep declines in daily sales on Thursdays and Fridays attributed in part to the pandemic and disrupted commuting routines, overall numbers remain strong with more than $1.26 billion worth of cannabis products sold through the adult use market between November 2018 and February 2021. With big operators like NETA going public, favorable regulations making the books, and a user-friendly licensing process welcoming more new businesses to the market, the future is bright for Massachusetts’ cannabis economy.

 

Julie Aitcheson

Julie Aitcheson is a freelance writer who has had articles published in Echo Quarterly, Communities Magazine (formerly Talking Leaves Magazine), Isabella, and All Things Girl. She received a full fellowship to the 2013 Stowe StoryLabs and won second place in the 2014 San Miguel Writers’ Conference nonfiction writing competition. She has published two young adult novels and is currently at work on her next book.


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