Less than three years after the first licensed recreational marijuana retailers began doing business in Massachusetts, regulated cannabis dispensaries have rung up more than $2 billion in adult-use cannabis sales, state officials announced on Wednesday.
Shawn Collins, the executive director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), reported that as of Tuesday night, regulated marijuana establishments had logged $2,009,007,478 in gross sales since the businesses first opened their doors on November 20, 2018.
“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,” Collins said in a statement from the agency.
“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.”
The news comes less than one year after regulated, adult-use cannabis sales hit the $1 billion mark on November 3, 2020. During the first year of licensed sales (November 2018 through 2019), 33 marijuana retailers generated $393.7 million in gross sales. Sales for all of the 2019 calendar year amounted to $444.9 million, the agency reported.
In 2020, 91 adult-use cannabis retailers tallied $702 million in gross sales, despite being closed for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recreational marijuana dispensaries were designated as non-essential businesses by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and ordered shuttered in March 2020 and then allowed to reopen the following May.
Massachusetts now has 165 licensed adult-use cannabis retailers and three recreational marijuana delivery services. As of Wednesday morning, regulators reported that $844 million in gross cannabis sales have already been made since January 1, putting 2021 on pace to be the year with the most licensed weed sales in Massachusetts ever.
Cannabis Control Commission Celebrates Fourth Anniversary
The Cannabis Control Commission also noted that Wednesday marked the four-year anniversary of the agency, which was launched after voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016. Massachusetts became the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana with the passage of a ballot measure in 2012.
The CCC also noted in its statement the progress the agency has made over the last four years of operation. Since the first licensed recreational marijuana retailers began doing business in 2018, the CCC has approved an additional 163 shops that have already opened or are in the process of doing so.
Taken together, the agency has approved a total of 908 marijuana establishments, including cultivators, processors, transporters, retailers, and more. Notably, the number of independent cannabis testing laboratories has increased from three to five in 2021.
Also this year, the CCC finalized regulatory changes that allow for the home delivery of marijuana products under three different business models. The agency began accepting applications for marijuana couriers, which were previously known as delivery-only licenses, in 2020.
Since then, two marijuana couriers have been authorized to commence operations, five have received final licenses, 10 have received provisional licenses and seven more are in the review and approval process. Additionally, one cannabis microbusiness has been awarded a delivery endorsement, allowing the company to deliver its own products directly to customers’ homes.
“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 Collins.
Additional information on the state’s recreational and medical marijuana programs is available on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commision open data platform.
A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based freelance writer covering cannabis news, business, and culture.