Massachusetts Sets Marijuana Sales Record In December, With Total Purchases In 2023 Reaching $1.8 Billion

Massachusetts marijuana retailers sold a record $158.7 million worth of legal cannabis products in December, according to figures released by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission—bringing the state’s total recorded sales for 2023 to nearly $1.8 billion.

Of that annual total, the bulk—more than 87 percent—was from adult-use sales, which came to nearly $1.57 billion last year. Medical marijuana sales, meanwhile, totaled about $226 million in 2023.

Record sales to adults last month, at $140.0 million, were largely responsible for the overall monthly record in December. Sales of medical marijuana were also stronger than in recent months, at about $18.6 million, but that market has been generally flat or declining over the past year, hovering between $17 million and $20 million each month.

As of the end of 2023, adult-use retailers had seen more than $5.54 billion in total sales since opening in late 2018. Cumulative medical marijuana receipts over the same period total $1.20 billion.

In general, the data show, medical marijuana sales have slowed since the launch of legal sales to adults, beginning to decline in recent years. The trend has been seen in other states, too, as more eligible patients opt to instead obtain cannabis through adult-use retailers or grow at home.

Meanwhile, adult-use sales had a strong year, which helped the state set a string of monthly records in mid-2023 before reaching another high point to round out 2023.

Medical marijuana is not subject to state tax, but adult-use products incur a 10.75 percent excise tax in addition to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. Municipalities can add up to another 3 percent tax on top of those.

State data showed for the first time in 2022 that the state is generating more tax revenue from marijuana than alcohol.

Meanwhile in the Bay State, lawmakers are considering changes to laws around psychedelics.

Earlier this month, officials certified that activists had submitted enough valid signatures to force legislative consideration of a psychedelics legalization initiative before the measure potentially heads to the state’s 2024 ballot. As such, the proposal was officially transmitted to the legislature.

The measure would create a regulatory framework for lawful and supervised access to psychedelics at licensed facilities. It would also legalize the possession and gifting of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca, but it would not otherwise provide for commercial retail sales of the substances.

The legislature will now have the choice to enact the reform, propose a substitute or decline to act. If lawmakers decide not to legalize psychedelics by May 1, activists would then have until July 3 to submit at least 12,429 additional valid signatures to put the proposal before voters on the November 2024 ballot.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) recently introduced legislation that includes provisions to create a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA for military veterans.

At the local level, the psychedelics reform group Bay Staters for Natural Medicine has helped enact local policies to deprioritize enforcement of laws against psychedelics in six cities: Salem, Somerville, Cambridge, Easthampton, Northampton, Amherst and Provincetown.

Separately, in the Massachusetts legislature, a Republican lawmaker filed three psychedelics reform bills in April, including proposals to legalize substances like psilocybin and reschedule MDMA pending federal approval while setting a price cap on therapeutic access.

There are several other pieces of psychedelics legislation that have been introduced in Massachusetts for the session by other legislators, including separate measures to legalize certain entheogenic substances for adults.

Another bill would authorize the Department of Public Health to conduct a comprehensive study into the potential therapeutic effects of synthetic psychedelics like MDMA.

Rep. Mike Connolly (D) also filed a bill in 2021 that received a Joint Judiciary Committee hearing on studying the implications of legalizing entheogenic substances like psilocybin and ayahuasca.

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