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Recreational marijuana sales top $2.2M in first 5 days

  • Potsquatch from Potco in Springfield mingles with people in line who were waiting to be the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at NETA Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Daquaan Hamilton, front left, of Northamtpon, arrived at 12:30 a.m. to be the first in line. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS



Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — Recreational marijuana revenue in Massachusetts over the first five days of legal sales topped $2.2 million, according to sales data released Tuesday by the Cannabis Control Commission.

According to the commission, a grand total of $2,217,621.13 and 56,380 items were sold during this time period, with Friday being the biggest day for sales in terms of money, at $479,748.58. Over the first five days, the average number of items bought per-transaction was 3.4, while the average amount of money spent per item was $39.33.

Recreational marijuana became legal to sell on Nov. 20 at two locations in Massachusetts: New England Treatment Access in Northampton and Cultivate in Leicester. Both stores are also medical marijuana dispensaries. They are the first legal recreational marijuana retailers east of the Mississippi.

NETA declined to comment Wednesday about its revenues, citing its status as a private company.

Northampton chose to adopt the maximum local tax on marijuana, which is 3 percent.

“It’s definitely being collected,” Mayor David Narkewicz said. “Definitely on the receipt.”

Narkewicz said the city won’t know the revenue it will receive from marijuana sales until the Massachusetts Department of Revenue releases it at the end of the next quarter. According to a document from the DOR, that tax revenue will be disbursed on Dec. 31.

In the city’s fiscal 2019 budget, marijuana revenue was not factored in, although it was mentioned as a possible revenue source in the mayor’s budget message earlier this year.

Narkewicz said he is inclined to have the funds from marijuana sales go into free cash at the end of the fiscal year, and appropriate it for capital projects and reserve funds. He also expressed caution at the prospect of using the money to fund new recurring expenses.

“We would not want to be overly optimistic and then fall short,” he said.

He also said that, while early sales are significant, “I need more than five days to make a really accurate revenue projection.”

Additionally, Narkewicz said, sales will change when there are more retailers open in the state.

The mayor said that NETA has been paying $2,861 per day for three traffic officers, and has scheduled with the Northampton Police Department to maintain this through Dec. 3. This also includes continuing to restrict access to Fulton Avenue. NETA and the NPD are evaluating a plan beyond that date for traffic.

INSA, an Easthampton medical marijuana dispensary, received its final license to sell recreational marijuana on Nov. 20, as well as the final licenses to grow and process it. However, it still needs to receive the go-ahead from the Cannabis Control Commission before it can proceed with sales.

Two other establishments have also received their final retail licenses but haven’t been given the go-ahead yet.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.