After four years and more than $4 billion in gross sales on adult-use products, the recreational marijuana industry is now a giant in Massachusetts.
What You Need To Know
- Former CCC chair Steven Hoffman said adult-use marijuana has been a "boom" for the state and local communities
- Thursday marks 4/20, which is an unofficial holiday in the marijuana community
- Per the CCC, data as of April 3 reports nearly $400,000,000 in gross sales have been made so far in 2023
- Stigma and capacity problems remain challenges in the industry
Steven Hoffman was the original chairman of the state's Cannabis Control Commission. He said getting an industry started from scratch was intimidating for him and his fellow commissioners.
"No office, no staff, no money, and with a mandate to stand up the business, the industry that didn't exist," Hoffman said. "What we were most focused on was making it safe and equitable. It has turned out to be, I think, a really good industry."
Getting started was also a challenge for the businesses themselves. Angela Brown co-founded Coast Cannabis Company, the state's first independent product manufacturer. Coast opened it's doors in 2020, and COVID-19 wasn't the only hurdle they faced that year.
"Being a woman-owned, family-operated company, we didn't come from money ourselves," said Brown. "We needed to go out there and raise it. With it being a brand new industry and not a proven model, it's very hard to get people who have the funds to hand those over."
Hoffman said the industry now finds itself in a tough spot with over-capacity and higher levels of competition. He said it's driving down prices, and it's a challenge Brown is seeing first-hand. A look through the CCC's website, and there are hundreds of approved retailers in the state.
"We believe competition is what drives the best products," Brown said. "It pushes you to create the best products if you're going to compete in the market."
It's not just saturation and competition. The stigma of marijuana remains of problem for regulators and businesses.
"Everything is tested, it's made with certain ingredients that are on the label," said Brown. "We're being held to typical manufacturing regulations."
"You can't legislate or regulate stigma away," Hoffman said. "It takes time."
So far in 2023, adult-use gross sales are already approaching $400,000,000. Now retired from the commission, Hoffman said the outlook on the industry is positive heading into it's fifth anniversary this November.
"I think they add value in terms of tax revenue, jobs," said Hoffman. "But they're good corporate citizens. I think this has been a boom for those cities and towns in Massachusetts that have welcomed the industry."