In the three years since Massachusetts legalized non-medical marijuana sales, the industry has seen steady growth statewide. 2021 was no exception. For the first time ever, the state collected more tax revenue from recreational cannabis purchases than alcohol sales, according to The Portland Press Herald.
Massachusetts racked up $74.2 million from marijuana excise taxes last year, compared to $51.3 million from alcohol. The Cannabis Control Commission reports that marijuana sales reached $2.54 billion.
Pandemic lockdowns may have contributed in part to the industry’s surge. Mikayla Bell, a community outreach manager for NETA, one of the largest cannabis retailers statewide, believes that with people stuck at home for much of the past year and a half, many were “looking for an alternative to make them feel better.” Now, instead of alcohol, “they found another product without the hangover, without the calories.”
Covering the cannabis sector, managing director at Cowen and senior Wall Street research analyst Vivien Azer explained that the shift from medical to recreational use often contributes to the doubling or tripling of revenues “almost overnight.”
“Not only is the industry growing by migrating current consumers out of the illicit market into the legal market,” Azer said. “But you’re also engaging consumers that have probably tried the product once in their lifetime, but then moved away from the category, but now have permission to reengage…now that it’s legal.”
According to a Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) report released this month, states with legalized marijuana have racked up over $10 billion in cannabis tax revenue since licensed sales began in 2014.