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Retail cannabis a welcome source of income for Massachusetts cities, towns

Dec 08, 2020 3:45 pm
Meg McIntyre is reporting for The Berkshire Eagle the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission recently announced $1 billion in gross sales among marijuana retailers and municipalities, noting the local impact of legalized pot has been largely positive so far, particularly during the pandemic. During a crisis that has stifled local revenues, retail cannabis has been a welcome source of income for some communities as the industry continues to grow. Between December 2018 and May 2019, adult-use marijuana brought in nearly $2.9 million in local tax revenue, according to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. During the following fiscal year, which ended in June 2020, cannabis brought in $14.9 million for cities and towns. The latest figures from fiscal year 2021 indicate the industry is rebounding from the lockdown, with more than $5.7 million in local tax revenue projected to date. In addition, under Massachusetts laws, cities and towns can draw up to 3 percent of a dispensary's gross annual sales in community impact fees, but the funds must be used for costs related to the impact of the business. Pittsfield collects a flat fee in its host community agreements that varies depending on the type of cannabis business and increases over the five-year term of the agreements, with retailers paying $60,000 in their first year of operation. According to finance director Matthew Kerwood, the city collected $30,000 from the fees in fiscal 2019, $170,000 in fiscal 2020 and $167,500 to date for fiscal 2021. That money goes into Pittsfield's general fund, he said. Currently, the commonwealth has authorized 90 marijuana retailers, plus few dozen other cannabis-related businesses, such as cultivation, production and testing. Read the full story in The Berkshire Eagle.