Capitalizing On Marijuana Industry Spurs Berkshires Business Brainstorming

Photo Credit: Jeremy Papasso

Berskshire businesses gathered Thursday to discuss how to seize the marijuana industry.

“The market is basically everybody. You’ve got people between the ages of 20 and 29 and you’ve got people between the ages of 60 and 69 and even older,” using medical marijuana, said Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., co-founder of Berkshire Roots of Pittsfield.

The company, which opened the first medical marijuana dispensary in Pittsfield in March, helped to arrange the forum called “Berkshire Roots Educates on Canna Tourism in the Berkshires.”

Over 30 members of the tourism, hospitality and other businesses attended the event at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort. It was co-arranged by 1Berkshire, the regional economic development organization.

All 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County approved the 2016 ballot question that legalized recreational marijuana and the 2012 ballot question that legalized marijuana for medical use in Massachusetts.

Officials with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission said Thursday they expect to issue licenses to permit recreational marijuana businesses to operate in July.

As of Wednesday, 53 applicants from 28 companies or individuals had submitted the entire application to open a marijuana business in Massachusetts.

At the forum here, Nuciforo, a former state senator, used slides to give a history of the marijuana ballot questions in Massachusetts, the market’s growth, regulations, methods of pot consumption and other details.

Marijuana sales are projected to hit $450 million in Massachusetts this year, but in a sign of the market’s power, such spending in Colorado could rocket to $1.5 billion in 2018, Nuciforo said. Colorado began permitting retail sales of marijuana in January 2014.

The market is as varied as the imagination with marijuana integrated into the lodging, cooking, tour, guidebook, retreat, transportation, dinner party and other industries, such as “sushi and joint rolling” classes, Nuciforo said.

“As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. Cannabis is somehow finding its way into all these different sectors,” he said.

In April 2017, Massachusetts had about 34,000 medical marijuana card holders, persons permitted to use pot for health reasons. That jumped to over 54,000 as of April of this year, he said.

The state had 26 medical marijuana dispensaries as of April 30, with Berkshire Roots the 19th when it opened at 501 Dalton Ave. in Pittsfield, he said.

Business owners and managers said they found the conference helpful in outlining the regulations binding the marijuana industry and showing ways in which such a market might help them.