As with everything around the world in the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting marijuana sales. However, if there is some return to normality during the summer, the Massachusetts marijuana market could increase by $200 million in 2020.
That’s good news for the cannabis curious in Massachusetts, who have patiently waited for the legal market to take off since voters approved adult-use marijuana use in November 2016.
Cannabis consumers purchased $587 million in cannabis products in 2019, according to numbers from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. That number could increase to $745 million in 2020, according to projections from BDS Analytics, a Colorado-based market research firm that specializes in the marijuana industry.
Still, the state continues to lag states in the West who were the first to create a legal cannabis marketplace.
Massachusetts Marijuana Market Slow To Grow
To illustrate how slow the growth has been in the Massachusetts marijuana market, BDS compared the state to Colorado, which has a population of about a million less people than Massachusetts.
Colorado had $1.7 billion in legal cannabis sales the past 12 months, about triple the size of the Massachusetts number. Part of the reason is that cannabis consumers in Massachusetts have far less access to marijuana. In its first year of legal sales, Colorado issued licenses to 306 dispensaries. The state now has 587 adult-use dispensaries and 432 medical dispensaries.
By comparison, Massachusetts has 36 adult-use dispensaries and 57 medical dispensaries.
Despite the relatively slow rollout of the Massachusetts program, BDS CEO Roy Bingham said the impact of Massachusetts becoming the first state in the east to allow legal sales is continuing to unfold.
In a prepared statement, Bingham said that legalized marijuana in “one of the founding states represents a major shift in New England politics and is likely to accelerate the legalization initiatives in other major markets, including New York, as regulators and politicians grow more comfortable with the cannabis industry and face extreme budget pressure caused in part by the financial impact of COVID-19 mitigation measures.”
COVID-19 Impact Across the Country
As noted by Bingham, the cost of COVID-19 mitigation could result in more states looking to legalize marijuana to increase tax revenue. But for now, it could impact consumers’ ability to buy marijuana products in the Massachusetts marijuana market and across the country.
According to BDS analytics, cannabis consumers are experiencing varying levels of access to medical and adult-use marijuana depending on where they live. In a chart on the company’s site, they list the following states as allowing full access to both medical and adult-use cannabis as of early April.
Medical marijuana only is available in Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Connecticut, Maryland and New Hampshire.