2/22/2017, BOSTON, MA
Cannabis business and law experts converged on Boston University’s Questrom School of Business Wednesday for a panel on the future of Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana industry. ‘Beyond Stigma: Envisioning the Cannabis Market in Massachusetts’ was organized to discuss the business potential of marijuana, which was legalized for adult use in Massachusetts on the last ballot.
Effective December 2016, Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana and legalized recreational possession and use for adults over 21 years of age. Massachusetts joins 7 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing the Schedule I drug. The cannabis business in other states has been very successful so far, with Colorado alone grossing over $1 billion in sales last year.
The Massachusetts industry has a lot of business potential: estimates show that the recreational industry could make $150 million in 2018 and $550 million in 2019, with profits continuing to increase in the years after. The legalization of recreational cannabis could also have a positive influence on the opioid epidemic. An increase in cannabis availability could give some people a safer alternative to traditional painkillers, which sometimes lead to addiction. Research shows that opioid deaths were down 24 percent in municipalities where recreational marijuana is legal.
The panel discussed a range of issues facing the future of the cannabis industry, such as finding funding for recreational operations, obtaining proper licenses from the state, developing creative innovations in the industry, complying with regulations, fighting negative public perception of marijuana, and promoting diversity within the industry.
Panelists included Tim Keogh, CEO of cannabis cultivation company AmeriCann, Jeffrey Zucker, co-founder and president of a cannabis business strategy firm, and Massachusetts attorneys Valerio Romano and Shaleen Title, who both worked on drafting the Question 4 legislation that legalized marijuana for the Commonwealth. The panel was moderated by Jessica Bartlett, the health care reporter for the Boston Business Journal.