SALISBURY — The first three months of retail marijuana sales have generated more than $86,000 in tax revenue for the town.
Salem-based Alternative Therapies Group opened its retail marijuana store at 107 Elm St. on Sept. 4. According to the host community agreement it signed with ATG, the town is due a 3% excise tax on store sales on a quarterly basis.
Town Manager Neil Harrington told selectmen at their meeting Monday that Salisbury received its first excise tax payment from ATG of $86,045 in late December.
“In my opinion, it is a little too early to predict what this new source of revenue will amount to over the course of a full fiscal year,” Harrington said. “But initial indicators point to a healthy start for this new type of business.”
Harrington added that the new excise tax revenue only represents ATG’s first three months in business and Salisbury should see two more payments by the end of the fiscal year in June.
“We will get a better sense of what we are able to budget for next year,” Harrington said.
He did caution that the town cannot reasonably predict a full year’s worth of revenue it might receive from the ATG store since the company intends to open a new location just up Route 110 in Amesbury later this year.
“From what I’ve heard, that will be later in the spring,” he said. “This is a potential good source of revenue. It will provide us with resources that we didn’t have before, which will hopefully help us with funding our school budget and other resources that we provide town residents. But they are off to an encouraging start in terms of the amount of revenue they are providing.”
Harrington also told selectmen that ATG will need to pay an additional, annual 3% of its gross sales to the town as a part of the host community agreement.
“So, next September or October, 3% of their entire first year’s sales, above and beyond the excise tax, will come to the town in a lump sum,” he said. “That will continue for the five years of the host community agreement that we put in place. If we renew the agreement, that will continue.”
Chief of Police Thomas Fowler appeared before selectmen Monday night and told them his department has not seen an increase in criminal behavior at the ATG store, “no more so than any other retail store.”
“We have had calls there because things happen, but there hasn’t been a drastic increase in any identified problem,” Fowler said. “Luckily, their management team is extremely professional and work with us and are very cooperative.”
Fowler did ask that people brush up on the state’s marijuana-related laws.
“Learn the laws as it regards to adult-use marijuana products,” he said. “There is no public consumption. It’s not legal to be sitting out on Salisbury Beach and smoking a marijuana cigarette. It is private consumption. You can transport it to your home (and) there is a limited amount that you can have.”
Although ATG intends to open a store in Amesbury, Salisbury was the first adopter of retail marijuana sales in Greater Newburyport.
ATG opened a retail marijuana store on Grove Street in Salem in December 2018 and that city received an initial tax payment of $59,449 by April.
Voters in Newburyport approved a ban on retail marijuana sales in November, which was a decision that Selectman Ronalee Ray-Parrott appeared to be pleased with Monday night.
“I still am in shock that Newburyport fought this,” Ray-Parrott said. “Because, the crime rate didn’t go up. The chief said the crime rate did not go up and there were a couple of accidents and that is it. So, this isn’t costing us. This is free money.”
“I’d keep that under our hat,” Selectman Freeman Condon replied.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.