By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – At a Special Town Meeting held in April 2018, Town Meeting members voted to allow two retail marijuana establishments to open in the town. At the time, proponents estimated that revenue from these establishments could be as much as $300,000 per year.
After measures were put in place by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission and negotiations with town officials, recreational marijuana establishments Verilife and The Botanist are now in operation. The Botanist is also a medical dispensary.
At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting held Nov. 10, Town Manager Kevin Mizikar shared his fiscal year (FY) 2021 quarter one review with the Board. Of interest was the addition of the excise taxes to local receipts from these marijuana establishments.
“We have received just a small amount in the first dispersion from the state of about $3,000 in the first quarter of FY2021,” he said.
He shared in an email after the meeting, “First, we only anticipated about $1,000 in revenue from the establishments in the FY21 revenue model…Therefore, any revenue that we do see will help ensure we meet our overall revenue projections should some of them fall short due to COVID-19 and any other challenge.”
Mizikar further explained that there are two revenue components: Excise tax of three percent on gross recreational sales and three percent of all sales through the Host Community Agreement. The Excise tax is distributed quarterly through the commonwealth.
The host community funding is not due until January 2021 for Verilife and sometime mid-summer of 2021 for The Botanist.
“Given that Verilife opened in late July and The Botanist opened just a few weeks ago we do not have a good way to measure what the revenues will be for the year,” he added.
And if the 2018 projection estimates hold true? Mizikar said: “Only time will tell!
Verilife, 939 Boston Turnpike, is one of two of the company’s facilities in the state. Their other location is in Wareham, Mass.
When contacted to comment on their Shrewsbury opening, Shelley Stormo, executive director for Massachusetts replied, “It’s gone great from our perspective. We’ve worked with the town on this license for about two to two and a half years prior to opening…”
“We are really excited and engaged in the community trying to find different opportunities to educate folks…to help them understand what we do,” she noted.
She said that their sales are growing week after week. Currently, they are adult use recreation only but they have applied to the state for a medical marijuana license.
The Botanist dispensary, 235 Hartford Turnpike, was also contacted for comment but so far have not responded. It is one of the company’s three facilities in Massachusetts. Their other locations are in Worcester and will soon open a dispensary in Leominster.