Earlier this month, Trulieve Cannabis Corp. announced it will be exiting the Massachusetts market by the end of the year, a move that includes the closure of its massive growing and processing facility in Holyoke.
The company, which is also scaling back in California and exiting the Nevada wholesale market, cited changing conditions and slumping business for the moves, which are the latest to signal that the cannabis sector in the Bay State is losing some of its luster amid growing competition from other states.
Indeed, some dispensaries have closed within the 413, and other companies have announced layoffs. Meanwhile, several proposed cannabis facilities, including one planned for the former Chez Josef banquet house in Agawam, have been scrapped due to an inability to secure financing amid dramatically changing market conditions.
Cannabis got off to a fast and quite solid start in this region, with facilities opening in most area cities and towns, absorbing vacant or underutilized real estate — ranging from former mill buildings to the Springfield Newspapers headquarters facility in downtown Springfield — in the process.
This has been especially true in Holyoke, a city that has aggressively courted the industry, with many former mills, some of which had been vacant for years, being retrofitted for growing operations and dispensaries. Trulieve’s Holyoke facility, formerly home to Conklin Office Furniture, will soon be on the market, and given the current downward trends in the sector, there are certainly question marks about whether another large-scale operation will be taking over that space.
It’s been a time of change and turbulence for the region’s cannabis sector as prices continue to fall and competition in Massachusetts and surrounding states continues to mount. This business was never as easy as it looked, given the hurdles that need to be cleared to simply open the doors and the high taxes that operations must pay. But now, it’s much more difficult to be profitable.
It is our hope that those that can survive this whitewater can stay in the game for the long term, because cannabis has become an important part of the region’s economy, one that has provided a real boost to communities like Holyoke, Easthampton, Northampton, and others.
The ‘green rush’ is losing some of its steam, but it is still a potent force within this market.