Massachusetts Marijuana Establishments Surpass $2 Billion in Gross Sales
Source: Cannabis Control Commission’s Open Data Platform
On eve of Commission’s fourth birthday, Marijuana Establishments surpass $2 billion in gross sales since retail stores opened in Massachusetts; progress continues to achieve industry goals
WORCESTER—On the eve of Wednesday, September 1, the Cannabis Control Commission (Commission)’s fourth birthday, adult-use Marijuana Establishments in Massachusetts surpassed $2 billion in gross sales, according to information reported in the state’s mandatory seed-to-sale tracking system, the agency announced today.
At close of business on Tuesday, August 31, aggregate data recorded in Metrc by 165 Marijuana Retailers and three delivery businesses operating statewide reached $2,009,007,478 in gross sales, coming less than three years after the first two adult-use stores on the East Coast opened their doors November 20, 2018 and less than one year since licensees surpassed the $1 billion mark November 3, 2020.
“As the Commission reflects on our four years of work, I hope the Commonwealth is proud of the agency we have built and the new industry that has been introduced and established,” said Commission Executive Director Shawn Collins. “This milestone speaks to the success of licensees that have interacted with the Commission from the application stage, maintained compliance with our strict regulations, and contribute every day to communities across the Commonwealth. This number also underscores the entire agency’s tireless efforts, particularly those of our hardworking staff, to thoughtfully regulate a safe, accessible, and effective adult-use marketplace that keeps critical tenets of our mission – public health, public safety, and equity, among others – front of mind.”
Over the first year of adult-use sales, from November 2018 to November 2019, 33 Marijuana Retailers generated $393.7 million in gross sales, before licensees ultimately tallied $444.9 million for the full calendar year of 2019. And despite being closed for two months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency in Massachusetts, 89 Marijuana Retailers generated $714.1 million over the second year of adult-use sales, from November 2019 to November 2020, while 91 Marijuana Retailers reached a total of $702 million for the full calendar year of 2020. As of start of business Wednesday, September 1, the Commission reported licensees have generated $844 million since January 1, already making 2021 a record sales year thus far.
Licensing, Agents, and Equity
Since Massachusetts’ first two Marijuana Retailers opened in 2018, 163 more have received notices from the Commission to commence operations statewide and are in the process of opening. Another 205 Marijuana Retailers with provisional or final license approval are completing the Commission’s inspection and compliance procedures towards that end. In total, the Commission has licensed 908 Marijuana Establishments, including Cultivators, Product Manufacturers, Retailers, Independent Testing Laboratories, Microbusinesses, Marijuana Couriers, and more.
Of note, the number of Independent Testing Laboratories in the Commonwealth increased from three to five in 2021, which the Commission hopes will increase the product supply that is tested, approved, and available to consumers and patients. Also related to testing, the Commission approved a staff recommendation in June that the agency adopt supplemental species-specific microbiological testing protocols and procedures for all indoor and outdoor cultivated marijuana flower that fails the initial microbiological contaminant tests.
Over the first eight months of 2021, the Commission has finalized changes to its adult-use cannabis regulations that support the home delivery of marijuana and marijuana products through three different business models, after launching initial license applications for Marijuana Couriers (previously known as Delivery Only licenses) in May 2020. Since then, the Commission has authorized two Marijuana Couriers to commence operations, five have received final licenses, 10 have received provisional licenses, and seven more are in the pipeline for Commission review and approval. One Microbusiness has also been authorized to operate with a Delivery Endorsement, allowing it to deliver its own products directly to consumers’ homes. While Wednesday’s $2 billion sales milestone does account for initial delivery sales conducted via the three operating licensees, the Commission is not parsing out specific data at this time to maintain driver safety.
This past May, the Commission launched the license application for Marijuana Delivery Operators. To date, 39 applicants have been pre-certified prior to consideration for a provisional license. To further the agency’s mission of ensuring industry participation by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition, all delivery models are exclusively available to more than 500 eligible certified Economic Empowerment Applicants (EEAs) and Social Equity Program (SEP) Participants for a minimum of three years from the date that the first Marijuana Delivery Operator commences operations.
To date, seven EEA licensees, eight SEP licensees, and 24 Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) – or state-certified minority-, woman-, or veteran-owned companies – of varying business types have opened. Additionally, the Commission has approved provisional licenses for 28 more EEA licensees, 48 SEP Participant licensees, and 114 DBE licensees that represent they have attended the state’s Supplier Diversity Office class and received expedited review from the Commission. Please note: some licensees may be counted across multiple categories as they qualify or identify under multiple criteria.
The application to participate in the SEP’s third cohort is currently open after the Commission launched it in June. Participants who are approved for the program based on four criteria receive automatic program benefits, such as expedited application review by the Commission’s licensing team, certain fee waivers, and exclusive access to delivery and social consumption license types. The Commission adjusted its regulations to include those who are owners on the original certification of an original EEA certification. The Commission will continue to utilize the online curriculum developed and implemented during the COVID-19 public health emergency to ensure the agency meets its commitment to disproportionately impacted communities.
As of August, across all categories of licenses, the adult-use cannabis industry in Massachusetts consists of nearly 16,667 active Marijuana Establishment Agent registrations. Of those, 35.4 percent identify as female and 64.1 percent identify as male, while 72.4 percent of registered and proposed agents identify as White, 7.6 percent identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish, and 6 percent identify as Black or African American.
As part of the Commission’s continued efforts to promote inclusion and diversity in the legal cannabis industry, the agency recently published updated Guidance on Diversity Plans and translated its adult-use and medical-use regulations into Spanish. The complete sets of Spanish-language regulations are posted on the Commission’s website.
Public Health, Safety, and Other Administrative Updates
Since last November, four new Commissioners were appointed to the agency—joining inaugural Chairman Steven J. Hoffman—and were onboarded by Commission leadership and staff, including:
- Commissioner Nurys Camargo, appointed to the Social Justice seat;
- Commissioner Ava Callendar Concepcion, appointed to the Public Safety seat;
- Commissioner Kimberly Roy, appointed to the Public Health seat; and
- Commissioner Bruce Stebbins, appointed to the Regulated Industries seat.
The Commission’s overall staff has increased to 84 employees, with 17 new employees joining the agency in 2021 and spanning nearly every department. Of note are the Licensing, Enforcement, and Investigations and Compliance teams, whose increased capacity for reviewing license applications, completing inspections, and recommending new businesses for Commission approval continues to increase the number of entities commencing operations in Massachusetts, in spite of working remotely since March 2020.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission implemented numerous precautions including social distancing requirements, sanitation measures, and other services at licensed locations throughout the state that put first the health and safety of employees, patients, and consumers, while also supporting Marijuana Establishments’ ongoing operations. In addition, the Commission facilitated waiver requests to allow for telehealth (telephone and live video) consultations to enable continued patient access to medical services during the pandemic while ensuring patient and provider safety. The Commission extended its order to allow virtual, web-based community outreach meetings through September 1, with accessibility and safety front of mind for all constituency groups. Read more at MassCannabisControl.com/COVID19.
At the end of 2020, Executive Director Collins also joined state cannabis regulators across the nation to announce the formation of a nonpartisan organization, the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA). CANNRA is designed for legalized jurisdictions like Massachusetts to share institutional knowledge and regulatory best practices throughout the United States. Collins serves on the Executive Committee.
Since November 2020, the Commission released two comprehensive research reports that include original data analysis and extensive state-of-science literature reviews, and published six peer-review scientific articles, on top of inviting commentary and presenting findings at national scientific conferences and academic institutions. Their research aims to establish a baseline prior to adult-use cannabis legalization to provide a point of reference for future years, assess gaps in systematic data collection, discuss strategic plans for upcoming reports, and present considerations for the Commonwealth.
To increase the public’s awareness of the regulated supply chain in Massachusetts, this past April, the Commission launched the first version of a new Product Catalog, providing a comprehensive database of legal marijuana products that are sold through the Commonwealth’s licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers and Marijuana Establishments. The regulatory platform, which is considered the first of its kind in the nation, is hosted through Metrc and is embedded on the Commission’s website. Additionally, on April 20, a segment of the agency’s “More About Marijuana” public awareness campaign highlighted the risks of consuming untested, unregulated marijuana vaping products and the need for patients and adults to educate themselves about the unknowns.
Also this year, the Commission introduced a new and improved website at MassCannabisControl.com, which streamlines existing resources into one platform, offers personalized navigation for individual engagement with agency programs, smarter search functions, and familiar tools including the Commission’s Open Data dashboards, store locator, Municipal Zoning Tracker, and more. This departure from the site’s former topic-based architecture enables the agency to better anticipate visitors’ searches for content and place the most frequently requested and relevant resources right at their fingertips, along strategically designed pathways.
Additional information about the Commission’s sales, licensing, and equity data is available by visiting MassCannabisControl.com, by contacting the Commission by phone (774-415-0200) or email (Commission@CCCMass.Com), or following the agency on Facebook and Twitter.
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