Chart: Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales soar in first month despite obstacles

Massachusetts dispensaries rang up $9.3 million in recreational marijuana sales during the first four weeks of operation, an impressive feat considering only two stores were selling adult-use cannabis during the bulk of this period.

Compared with the first month of rec sales in other states, Massachusetts had lower gross sales but far fewer operating dispensaries than Oregon ($14 million, 320 dispensaries), Colorado ($14.7 million, 59 dispensaries) and Nevada ($27.1 million, 53 dispensaries).

The two Massachusetts dispensaries – Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton – took in more than $440,000 on the first day of sales, and the state averaged $2.3 million in sales per week.

Alternative Therapies Group (ATG) opened Dec. 15 in Salem.

Two more dispensaries – Verilife in Wareham and Insa in Easthampton – were approved to commence recreational sales in late December, with several other dispensaries slated for approval in the new year.

Another hurdle for the market: Sales began Nov. 20 – a Tuesday – and were halted that Thursday for Thanksgiving, abbreviating the first week to five days.

The operating dispensaries also took the unique step of limited per-person transactions below the state’s legal 1-ounce purchasing limit to prevent product shortages.

ATG went a step further, requiring adult-use customers to make an appointment to visit the dispensary.

The Marijuana Business Factbook 2018 estimates that Massachusetts has 900,000 to 1.1 million in-state customers.

And, as the first Eastern state to begin legal adult-use sales, Massachusetts is expected to benefit from the region’s population density.

The state is on pace to break $14 million in recreational sales in 2018.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Through Dec. 16, Massachusetts sold 234,656 individual units of recreational marijuana products. The state’s Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) defines a unit as an individual product, such as a package of edibles, container of measured marijuana or bottle of lotion.
  • The state has not set caps on the number of recreational facilities allowed. As of Dec. 16, the CCC had received a total of 224 complete applications. Of those, 13 businesses received their final licenses and 11 had commenced operations, including five retailers, two cultivators, two testing laboratories and two product manufacturers.
  • Medical marijuana dispensaries continue to open. While the state has allowed for unlimited recreational businesses, licensing priority is given to experienced medical dispensaries. The Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program had more than 57,000 active patients and 47 registered dispensaries as of Nov. 30.

Maggie Cowee can be reached at [email protected]

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

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