How do you like them apples?
In just over one year, legal cannabis sales in Massachusetts — a state with the population of 6.9 million — reached more than half of legal sales for the entire country of Canada, according to a U.S. national cannabis law firm.
All financial amounts in this story are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.
Cannabis retailers in the northeastern state sold around US$509 million ($677 million) worth of legal weed from November 2018 to the end of January 2020, Vicente Sederberg LLP data analysis calculated.
Meanwhile, federal data showed Canadian pot retailers sold $908 million in the first year of cannabis legalization. That’s an average of $76 million worth of cannabis sales a month in a nation of 37 million people, compared to $45 million sold per month for Massachusetts.
Those are some wicked awesome numbers for the Bay State’s legal cannabis market considering only two legal pot shops were open by the end of November 2018.
According to the Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts, 34 cannabis stores are up and running today with another six slated to roll out soon. The state authority has received a total of 285 applications for cannabis retail licences across 169 municipalities.
“Only a fraction of the business that applied for licenses have received approval to commence operations, so we are only experiencing a fraction of the benefits right now,” Adam Fine, managing partner of Vicente Sederberg’s Boston office, said in a press release.
“State officials are working diligently to get through those applications, and we expect to see a number of new businesses coming online these next several months.”
Thanks for the shout-out @sethmeyers! 🐋
"Massachusetts residents yesterday celebrated the grand opening of the first recreational marijuana dispensary on Cape Cod." @LateNightSeth @NBC
👉0:25 https://t.co/Nuvb3abxh8 pic.twitter.com/gUIku4mNwS
— Curaleaf (@Curaleaf_Inc) January 31, 2020
Massachusetts, Canada poised for growth
America’s two most valuable cannabis companies by market share are among those that have claimed stakes in the Massachusetts pot market.
Curaleaf Holdings (CSE: CURA) announced last week it had opened the first-ever cannabis store in Cape Cod, bringing its total store count to four inside the state where it is also based in.
Meanwhile, Green Thumb Industries (CSE: GTII) of Chicago has set up two cultivation sites inside Massachusetts and operates one store two hours east of Boston by car.
In Canada, roughly 700 cannabis store licences have been issued the provinces and territories, but Alberta makes up more than half of those with 413. As well, the majority of store licences did not exist in the first six months of legalization.
Hundreds of new stores are expected to be added in the coming months, as Ontario — the nation’s largest weed market — recently changed the rules for applying for licences to open up the market. Ontario currently has 28 pot stores open to service its 14.5 million people.
Cannabis sales appear to be tightly related to the number of store openings.
For example, legal weed sales in British Columbia of November 2019 jumped by $6 million from the previous month, which was also when a large number of new pot shops opened up for business for the first time.
Read more: BC college to offer province’s first cannabis retail course
Read more: Canopy to open 10 new cannabis stores in Ontario, skipping provincial queue
In Massachusetts, average monthly cannabis sales increased 66 per cent from the first six months of 2019 (US$27.9 million) to the second six months (US$46.3 million), an increase that also coincided with a ramp up in store openings.
The latest Statistics Canada data shows cannabis sales across the country reached a total of $136 million last November, a 152 per cent increase from November 2018.
In the second year of legalization, Canada’s pot market is expected to grow as more stores open in Ontario and sales of vapes, edibles and topicals make their way to balance sheets for the first time.
Cover image of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, courtesy of Deposit Photos.