Relaunch of Massachusetts’ adult-use cannabis industry was anticlimactic


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Towards the end of May, recreational cannabis consumers in Massachusetts experienced some respite from dispensary closures. It was on May 25 that a tedious two-month shutdown came to an end. However, revenue earned during the first week of sales recommencing wasn’t quite what state officials had hoped for.

The relaunch week of adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts saw dispensaries turnover $13.6 million in transactions. Despite the fact that sales revenue climbed 60 percent from the same time period last year, retailers struggled to sustain the level of revenue that was being harvested before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak kicked off. 

Massachusetts is the only U.S. state with a legal cannabis program that imposed store closures orders amid the pandemic. Notwithstanding the disappointing sales, recreational cannabis sales in Massachusetts climbed 200 percent this year compared with the initial 12 weeks of 2019.

Vape products took the lead during reopening week of adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts on recent sales data, the first week of Massachusetts’ adult-use cannabis industry relaunching triggered a spike in vape product purchases. This category of products saw a 20 percent surge in sales during the week of May 25; an increase from the 14.5 percent growth experienced in January and February.

Pre-rolls didn’t do so well, with this category of adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts accounting for six percent of sales during the week of May 25; a four percent decrease from the first two months of 2020. 

Slow adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts attributed to absence of tourists

As many as 30 million domestic and international travelers descend on the progressive State of Massachusetts on an annual basis. With such a large number of out-of-state visitors making their way to the legal weed state each year, dispensaries tend to capitalize on tourist purchases. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned this year. 

The adult-use cannabis market in Massachusetts has been starved by the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricted non-residents from crossing the border and lapping up what the industry has to offer. Since the overwhelming Democratic state is the only one on the East Coast with a fully functional legal weed trade, out-of-state residents have been forced to go without their beloved herb amid COVID-19. Consequently, this has caused a devastating blow to the economy.

Although medical cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts were exempt from the state-mandated store closures, the medical segment of the market constitutes a small portion of revenue; approximately 10-15 percent of revenue. This is proving problematic, since the licensing process for adult-use cannabis businesses in Massachusetts is not the most straightforward. Currently, a mere 60 retail cannabis stores are operating statewide. Considering the population of seven million, the state is in desperate need of additional licensees.