Boston Could Become ‘Cannabis Capital of the World,’ Say Industry Analysts

They say the industry could swell to $1 billion by 2020.

medical marijuana massachusetts

When marijuana shops arrive in Massachusetts—at the start of 2018, barring any delays from the Legislature—they’ll bring a brand new industry with them. But just how big will it be? If you ask the researchers behind a study about the future of pot in the Hub, the answer is: huge.

According to a forecast from cannabis industry analysts ArcView Market Research and New Frontier Data, we could very well become “the cannabis capital of the world in short order.” So says Troy Dayton, Arcview’s CEO. It also projects that the Commonwealth will be home to a $1 billion marijuana industry by 2020, in a summary of their findings published Wednesday.

The report argues that, as the first East Coast city to have shops with recreational marijuana on its shelves, Boston will be a magnet for tourists. A lot of that has to do with location, as many of those would-be visitors wouldn’t have to go far to sample the new products on our shelves.

“Unlike other places where cannabis is legal, Boston is within driving distance of many of the most populous places in America,” Dayton says.

It also predicts that legalization here is a bellwether for other states in the region, who are likely to follow Massachusetts’ lead and pass legalization initiatives of their own.

The forecast acknowledges that, despite voters approving the law via ballot initiative in November, the marijuana industry is still vulnerable to being shaped by lawmakers. The regulatory body charged with overseeing it, called the Cannabis Control Commission, has not yet been formed. And on Beacon Hill, where the ballot question was largely opposed by top politicians, there are discussions in progress that could result in everything from increased taxes for cannabis, to changes to the minimum legal age for marijuana consumption, to significant delays in implementing the law.

“The full regulatory structure and key program details of the adult use market remain to be determined, and the market could take a few different directions depending on the actions of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission and local municipalities across the state,” a summary of the report reads. “However, the broad parameters of the law create an opportunity for an open and expansive market.”

Not everyone is likely to be pleased with the prospect of Massachusetts becoming a booming pot tourism destination. Concerns about pot shops outnumbering McDonald’s and Starbucks were a central talking point in the campaign opposing legalization (that was also the argument made in the much-talked-about anti-marijuana ad that ran this year, featuring a flabbergasted mom and her THC-consuming son, Kevin).