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Updated: December 25, 2023 Economic Forecast 2024

Cannabis 2024 economic forecast: Businesses to struggle

A man stands in a room full of marijuana plants. Photo | Zachary Comeau Sam Barber, the founder and former leader of the cannabis firm Cultivate in Leicester, tends to plants in this 2019 photo.

“Chaos” was the infamous word used by suspended Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Chair Shannon O’Brien when she attempted to ring alarm bells over former Executive Director Shawn Collins’ departure from the agency last summer. This word would probably be a fitting description for the cannabis industry in general during 2023 and don’t expect that chaos to dissipate in 2024.

CCC reaches a crossroads

The September suspension of chair Shannon O’Brien at the industry regulator Cannabis Control Commission and the subsequent lawsuit she filed have rocked the state’s marijuana industry. With executive director Shawn Collins resigning in December and rumors swirling about more key departures from the agency, 2024 is shaping up to be either the year that the commission rights itself, or the year that state lawmakers intervene with reforms or more oversight.

More fallout from business closures

Hundreds of local cannabis industry workers lost their jobs in 2023, and companies who provide services to canna-businesses have struggled to collect payments. Municipalities have become more reliant on taxes and other revenue raised from cannabis businesses. As more cannabis companies struggle with crashing prices and oversaturation, don’t expect the fallout to be confined to just business owners.

Outside competition

Every state bordering Massachusetts – except New Hampshire – has legalized cannabis for adult use, eliminating the need for out-of-state consumers to travel to the Bay State to their marijuana. New state markets aren't the only threats to the profits of local cannabis business owners: Changes to federal laws have allowed manufacturers to extract THC from federally legal hemp plants and sell intoxicating products across state lines, undermining the state’s control of the cannabis economy. Expect more concerns about hemp-derived products in 2024.

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