A look back at four years of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts

As the four-year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts nears, the state has made monumental progress in moving an entire industry from the alleyways into the light.

As of Oct. 9, a total of 689 licenses have been approved in Massachusetts, which includes 268 retail establishments. In total, the commission has received 904 completed applications to operate in over 160 municipalities. As of Oct. 10, 77 dispensary locations have commenced operations in the state.

The commission has created an entire regulatory market for a drug that was once illegal, and has stood up licensing, enforcement, and marketing teams faster than many companies. But as the industry moves into its third year since sales actually began, work remains. In the past two fiscal years which included recreational cannabis sales, ending in June 2020, the state has collected $122 million in taxes. That’s far below expectations, due largely to the late start to the industry, coupled with shutdowns from coronavirus.

Despite state programs and initiatives to propel disenfranchised groups, the progress has largely benefited white and male operators. Of the 901 applicants for which there are data, only 42 identified as women-owned, 73 identified as minority-owned. Over 700 — 78% — did not identify as being in a disadvantaged business group. [Read more at MLive.com]

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