Wednesday is typically one of the slowest days of the week for Massachusetts marijuana retailers — unless, that is, it coincides with the traditional “4/20″ stoner holiday.
Consumers purchased a record-breaking 202,000 cannabis products on April 20 this year from the roughly 215 recreational pot shops in the state, according to new data released by the Cannabis Control Commission.
That’s the most in a single day since recreational sales began in November 2018.
“It was a really, really huge day for us,” said Vanessa Jean-Baptiste, co-owner of Brockton marijuana store Legal Greens. “We saw close to 700 people, instead of 300 on a normal Wednesday, and we tripled our sales compared to 4/20 last year. We had more older people, more young people, more middle-aged people — it was literally everybody and anybody.”
Altogether, shoppers in Massachusetts dropped just under $6 million on April 20 on a mix of marijuana flower, pre-rolled joints, edibles, concentrates, and other products sold on the licensed recreational market.
That haul trails only three other dates: Jan. 28, when Massachusetts cannabis consumers spent a record $7.16 million stocking up on weed before a blizzard, and holiday-oriented shopping sprees on Nov. 24 and Dec. 23, when the state’s recreational shops earned $6.16 and $6.73 million, respectively.
So why didn’t the record number of products sold on April 20 translate into record revenue?
One reason appears to be special 4/20 discounts offered by retailers and smaller-than-usual orders placed by consumers. Shoppers this April 20 spent an average of just $29.63 each, well below the all-time average of $42.17, according to the data released by the commission.
Another is that marijuana prices, in general, have declined this year amid increasing competition, with a gram of cannabis flower in March costing $11.96 on average compared to $14.20 in January. That’s a welcome change for consumers and medical marijuana patients, who have long complained that Massachusetts weed is among the priciest in the country despite its middling quality.
Jean-Baptiste said she’s learned that consumers in the area around her Brockton store are relatively price-sensitive, leading Legal Greens to prioritize stocking lower-cost products from large wholesalers. On April 20, for example, the shop’s most popular offering was a quarter-ounce of pre-ground flower for just $24.
However, as stigma around the drug continues to fade, Jean-Baptiste has also noticed an uptick in older consumers who are less interested in getting high but rather curious about the potential of cannabis edibles and salves to treat joint pain and other ailments.
“On 4/20, my friend’s mom came in, and she was somebody who when we were growing up was definitely not about marijuana — she would tell us it was the devil and all that,” Jean-Baptiste recounted. “Now she swears by it. She’s telling everybody that our tinctures are helping her get up and go to work. It really warms my heart.”
The 4/20 holiday has been celebrated annually by pot enthusiasts since the early 1970s, when a group of four California high school students began meeting at 4:20 p.m. for an after-class toke. In recent years, the cheeky underground “holiday” has entered the mainstream, embraced in advertising campaigns by prominent non-marijuana brands such as Domino’s Pizza and even the Nasdaq stock exchange, which invited executives from cannabis website Leafly to ring the opening bell on April 20.
A similar normalization of cannabis is happening locally.
Caroline Pineau, owner of the Stem marijuana shop in Haverhill, organized a coordinated 4/20 promotion this year with several nearby restaurants, figuring that the onset of marijuana-induced “munchies” could be a boon for them, too. Servers at the restaurants wore 4/20-themed shirts with Stem branding, while budtenders at her shop donned roller skates to help pump up the “party atmosphere.” The result, she said, was a big boost in sales for all the establishments involved and a festive atmosphere in the city’s downtown area.
“This was the first year I felt a real sense of freedom among other businesses to really get involved and embrace 4/20,” Pineau said. “They’re emboldened and excited to join in on the excitement we create about being open with our cannabis use. That normalization is paying dividends for everybody.”
Dan Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Adams86.