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Massachusetts Cannabis Sales Recover From Shutdown

July 21, 2020

Following a two-month blackout, adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts are gradually bouncing back. Recreational dispensaries were excluded from the state’s list of essential businesses when it went into lockdown back in March. Medical dispensaries were deemed essential under Governor Baker’s shutdown order, but recreational dispensaries closed March 24 and didn’t reopen until May 25, despite efforts by retailers.

Massachusetts customers had already spent $158 million in 2020 when the shutdown went into effect, according to publicly available data from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, with weekly sales generally hovering around $15 million. Directly after reopening at the end of May, the weekly totals were closer to $12 million through the first half of June. But trends already appear to have normalized, with each week since June 16 adding at least $15 million again. Sales for the year now stand at $256 million.

Nicole Campbell, owner of The Green Lady Dispensary on Nantucket, told SND that worries about reduced tourism have cleared in recent days. “The island has picked up and come to life,” she said. “The summer residents and families renting homes have decided it’s a great place to get away this summer safely. However, I do not believe there are as many day trippers or weekend visitors as in a ‘normal’ summer, as the ferries have limited service so passengers can properly social distance onboard. We’re very thankful to be open and serving medical and recreational customers alike.”

While the market is demonstrating overall resilience, the financial toll of the shutdown on individual retailers can’t be ignored. A recent report from cannabis business consulting company Nucleus One estimates the shutdown produced a statewide sales revenue shortfall of $116 million, which in turn will result in a tax revenue shortfall of nearly $20 million. “Every worse thing that could have happened, happened,” said Ellen Rosenfeld, president of CommCan, which operates two dispensaries, one recreational and one medical. The business lost more than $2 million over the two-month period.

The pandemic also created problems for workers in the industry, as layoffs began by the end of April. Just over 4,400 people in Massachusetts worked in the sector in mid-April, but that number dipped by approximately 200 over the next month. Since reopening, these job losses have reversed, with employment hitting a new high of just over 4,500.

Many consumer trends remain unaffected by the two-month blackout. Sales remain significantly higher on Fridays and Saturdays than any other day of the week. On July 10-11—a Friday and Saturday—sales topped $2.7 million on both days before dropping below $2 million on Sunday, July 12. Product mix has been virtually unaffected, with flower holding strong with approximately 50% of sales and pre-rolls and vapes each claiming 20%.—Danny Sullivan

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