Perhaps you’ve never heard of the town of Northbridge in central Massachusetts, and it’s even more likely that you’ve never heard the term “Eskar.” While Northbridge and its eskar are little known, they came together in an inspiring way to show that American resilience, ingenuity, and civic involvement can still make a difference. Northbridge, for the record, was founded four years before the Declaration of Independence, as many of its founding citizens participated in the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Bunker Hill. Approximately 240 years later, an undeveloped tract of land in Northbridge sat between a steel plant and a residential area. It was difficult to do anything with the land because it contained an eskar, essentially a long mound of sand and gravel left over from the last ice age.
The Story of the Northbridge Eskar
The voters of Massachusetts approved the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2016. Upon hearing this, a would-be entrepreneur in Northbridge decided to open a dispensary. His problems included a complete absence of land to grow the plants, a location to sell the product, and the lack of permission from local residents to do either. The young entrepreneur secured the eskar, fought until he secured the proper zoning, painted signs, filed legal work, and, the day before his wedding, hand-collected signatures outside the town’s shopping center for a needed petition. Sure enough, the date for a vote was set and the largest voter turnout in Northridge history, 4,000 voters, gave him the permission to build and open a dispensary. The name of that dispensary? Eskar.
The Results of Legal Cannabis in Massachusetts
All the while this was going on in Northridge, the legalization of cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts was already having an impact. Legal sales in the state did not begin until late November 2018, and then at only two dispensaries. In the first 90 days of sales, more than $24 million dollars of cannabis products were sold, generating about $4 million in tax revenues. Cannabis is heavily taxed in Massachusetts:
- Sales have a state retail tax of 6.25%
- Local communities can include an optional tax of up to 3%
- An excise tax is placed on cannabis of 10.75%
- Total taxation upon cannabis sales is up to 20%
The Dispensary Becomes a Reality
Once the Northbridge vote was taken and approved, work on creating the dispensary could begin in earnest. Investors appeared, intrigued by the reality that the budding Eskar was going to be one of the largest cannabis producers in the state. Citizens began to recognize the potential the dispensary held for Northbridge. Other towns expressed interest as well. The historic community of Northbridge started to realize that another revolution had taken place in a new century, with one of the major battles happening right before their eyes. The Eskar dispensary promised new financial vitality and a renewed public spirit in this community of 16,000 independent souls. As the Eskar dispensary expands, first to Arlington, folks in Northridge recognize that, once again, they are on the cusp of revolutionary changes.