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Date: 2023-01-13 20:51:46
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The $1 million threshold at 2:30 p.m. Friday means the 3.5 days since the Tuesday opening of adult-use ganja sales have averaged $286,000 per day, or $41,000 per day for each store -- not including state and local taxes of about 20 percent. Retailers saw a falloff but not a significant decline as the week unfolded.
The totals are for adult-use cannabis sales only -- not the medical market, which is active at all seven of the adult-use stores.
How do these early numbers stack up? The Connecticut stores far outsold the Dec. 1 launch in Rhode Island, with $786,000 in the first seven days in five stores, according to WPRI-TV Channel 12 in Providence. That's an average of $22,500 in non-medical sales per store per day.
The Connecticut totals fell far below the sales Massachusetts retailers realized when they opened adult-use retail in two locations on Nov. 20, 2108 -- also a Tuesday. Those two stores saw an average of $222,000 per day per store for the first five days of operations.
That's an unfair comparison because Massachusetts was the first state in the East to open for adult-use and had a huge excitement factor – attracting thousands of customers from Connecticut, Rode Island and other surrounding states. Also the opening to the north came in the teeth of the holiday season, compared with the January lull.
Today we have retail, non-medical sales at 225 locations in Massachusetts, plus the sales in Rhode Island, plus New Jersey. New York doesn’t officially have retail sales yet, but weed is about as hard to find in the city as maple trees in the forest, with trucks selling the product on street corners.
And, as my colleagues Jordan Fenster and Julia Bergman reported Friday, prices at the Connecticut locations appear to be higher than in surrounding states.
“We are proud to have overseen a smooth and successful launch of the adult-use cannabis market that provided a positive consumer experience, was not disruptive to our communities or to the existing medical market, and ultimately resulted in robust and consistent initial sales," Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said in a written statement.
"It’s too early to say what the market will look like," said Rino Ferrarese, executive vice president for the northern region at Verano, which opened the Zen Leaf store in Meriden to adult-use on Tuesday. "We’re happy with the level of customer service we were able to provide...All in all it was definitely positive."
Zen Leaf and the other six stores selling for adult-use are all medical cannabis dispensaries that have converted to a hybrid of medical and general retail. Two more such stores are expected to open with the next month. The first of the stores run by social equity joint partnerships are also nearing final approval to open.
It's unclear how many locations the Connecticut market will support. Dozens could be licensed this year under the rules now in place. Business Insider reported Thursday that a Wall Street analyst predicted $250 million to $300 million in yearly sales starting in 2023, though that includes medical as well as general adult usage.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission issued a breakdown by total number of sales and average spending per transaction – information the Connecticut regulators at DCP are expected to produce in the next several days. Connecticut regulators are also expected to issue sales totals for medical cannabis, spokeswoman Kaitlyn Krasselt said.
Ultimately, success for this state’s cannabis sales program is not based on hitting high revenue and profit totals. More ganja sales helps the business owners, of course, but it may or may not be a good sign for the state. We don't want to see a thriving illegal market and we don't want a new generation of many more heavy consumers of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
What we want to see is a fair and equitable market that helps undo the wrongs of the long, failed drug war. Whether we’ll see true social equity ownership of thriving businesses in five years remains to be seen.
"We expect this marketplace will continue to grow, provide new jobs, drive reinvestment in the communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition, and continue to create economic opportunity for our state," Seagull said.