In his own letter, Cusack, the House chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue, requested information about the agency’s licensing processes, tax revenue projections, and its role in certain municipality decisions. Cusack also included more than two dozen questions and asked Hoffman to respond within three weeks.
Most notably, Cusack, who is also the former chairman of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, questioned why expected tax revenue had fallen short.
Cusack wrote on June 27 that with just days left in the fiscal year, the state had collected about $29.9 million in marijuana tax revenue, about $33 million less than projected. The goal for fiscal 2020 will rise to $132.5 million.
“If a contributing issue was the speed at which the rollout occurred, then one would think a system would be in place — with an adequate number of well-trained staff and inspectors — to streamline and get more retailers up and running at a faster pace, while keeping safety and the consumers in mind,” Cusack wrote.
The state collects 17 percent in tax revenue from marijuana sales — a 6.25 percent sales tax and an additional 10.75 excise tax.
Marijuana tax revenue is expected to grow as more businesses open, Hoffman said, also pointing out that many of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns have placed bans on marijuana establishments, or on marijuana retail stores exclusively, hindering some progress.
The commission has sent out a voluntary survey to all municipalities to determine how many have banned marijuana establishments and is still waiting to hear back from some cities and towns.
Meanwhile, Hoffman said, as commissioners worked to set up the initial framework for the marijuana industry, they did their best to weigh the concerns of all participants, while placing a priority on consumers and patients.
All of this, he said, took time.
“I feel we have done a good job balancing the oftentimes conflicting perspectives of these groups and are continuing to stand up a marketplace that will work for all,” Hoffman wrote in his 13-page response, which also had several documents attached.