2 Shops, 1 Week, $2+Million: Massachusetts Pot Tourism May Spark Reform in Lagging Neighbors
Well, after one full week of recreational cannabis sales in the state of Massachusetts the results are in.
Just like in other cannabis-legal states like Colorado, Washington, and California to name a few, this cultural shift in the way that law enforcement treats marijuana has not led to the fire and brimstone fears conjured up by the dwindling crop of anti-cannabis prohibitionists.
Instead, it appears that it is the predictions of the pro-cannabis movement in the state that are right on track.
With just two retail recreational cannabis dispensaries open so far, the state reports profits of over $2.2 million in the first week alone in Massachusetts.
The trailblazing shops - Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access in Northampton – raked in nearly a half a million dollars combined just on Day 1 and both have had long lines of excited new customers since then as they each serve a capacity of roughly 2,000 customers every single day.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is licking its chops seeing all of this juicy new tax revenue flowing into its coffers and announced this week the approval of three more rec dispensaries set to open as soon as possible.
The sky high sales in week one of legality is surely thanks to the support of cannabis lovers right there at home in Massachusetts, but considering that the border with New York is just an hour away from Northampton, it’s safe to say that a significant chunk of those week one pot profits came from out of state residents looking to refill their stash the legal way.
“There’s no restriction on out-of-state purchases or anything like that, largely, because our state has a large and healthy tourism market so we want to make sure people who are visiting and they’re over 21, it’s legal,” says state Rep. Mark Cusack, the chair of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy.
Similarly, you can drive from Hartford, CT up to Cultivate in Northampton in less than an hour, or take the train for just $14, and load up on a full ounce of legal weed in Massachusetts that could get you a misdemeanor charge and jail time in Connecticut.
Stuck and out of luck in New Hampshire? The border towns of Nashua, New Ipswich, Hollis, Brookline, and others are also an hour or less from shelves of legal weed in Leicester, Mass.
The shop in Leicester is so popular, locals are complaining about traffic and they've begun limiting sales to just an eighth (3.5 grams) of flower per customer in fear that they will run out of weed otherwise.
They have reported seeing drivers licenses from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island so far.
As more legal cannabis outlets open in the Bay State, more out of state cannabis lovers will be within reasonable transportation range, and that many more dollars will flood across state lines into Massachusetts.
While there are no residency requirements, customers cannot purchase more than one ounce of cannabis flower per day.
This bottleneck was put in place specifically to discourage diversion of legal weed into the illegal market, and almost certainly works to dissuade big time hustlers. But we all know they never relied on legal weed to keep their clients happy so they probably don’t need it now.
Still, an ounce per day is plenty for personal use for any tolerance level, so that quantity limit probably does not slow down the cannabis tourists.
The main problem is the fact that transporting any amount of cannabis across state lines is a federal crime. Even if someone is driving their legal weed from Massachusetts across the border and into Vermont, where adult use recreational cannabis is also legal, they could face legal jeopardy if law enforcement could prove the origin of the herb.
Clearly, though, surrounding states’ law enforcement departments do not have the resources (or even the desire in most cases) to chase down every dime bag that comes into their state from Massachusetts.
Ironically, the people usually most concerned about legal weed being diverted into their state are the same people standing in the way of their state legalizing weed.
We will not be shocked if New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, and Connecticut ALL legalize the recreational use of cannabis for adults in 2019.
They are leaking money to their more progressive neighbors every day that they don’t.