Should Colorado’s Marijuana Sales be the Benchmark?

The expectations for sales in the legal marijuana industry would eventually make it one of the most significant commodities in the United States and possibly around the world. However, the cannabis industry is still young and has many obstacles to overcome before it can come close to those expectations. Colorado’s marijuana sales though are already staggering and making those expectations seem like they could become a reality.

Colorado’s marijuana sales really started to take off after Amendment 64 was passed by voters in late 2012, and it became one of the first recreational weed states. Coupled with medical marijuana sales, recreational marijuana topped $1 billion dollars in eight months this year. California’s marijuana industry is expected to be even larger though. When do you think Colorado’s marijuana sales will plateau?

Legal marijuana is a bona fide billion-dollar industry in Colorado. And it’s hitting the mark faster than ever.

In 2017, Colorado eclipsed $1 billion in marijuana sales in eight months; in 2016, it took 10 months.

Colorado’s marijuana retailers logged upward of $1.02 billion in collective medical and recreational sales through August, according to The Cannabist’s extrapolations of state tax data released Wednesday. Year-to-date sales are up 21 percent from the first eight months of 2016, when recreational and medical marijuana sales totaled $846.5 million.

This year’s cumulative sales equate to more than $162 million in taxes and fees for Colorado coffers.

During the month of August, sales of flower, edibles, concentrates and accessories were nearly $137 million — $100.3 million from recreational cannabis sales and $36.5 million from medical marijuana — according to The Cannabist’s calculations.

The Colorado Department of Revenue’s latest report lists marijuana taxes, licenses and fees remitted in September. The receipts largely reflect sales made in August but have the potential to vary because of incomplete or late returns from prior months.

The monthly tax data now comes with some additional stipulations. It’s the second full month in which marijuana sales have been subject to a different taxing structure, and the reports reflect a “period of transition,” DOR officials say.

The special sales tax rate for recreational marijuana increased to 15 percent from 10 percent in July, as the result of a new law that also exempted recreational marijuana products from the 2.9 percent standard state sales tax. Medical marijuana and accessories are still subject to that 2.9 percent sales tax rate.

The Cannabist’s calculations for July and August 2017 recreational sales are based on revenue reported for the new 15 percent sales tax.

Economists and state officials have projected that the annual growth rates for Colorado’s cannabis sales will eventually moderate as the local market matures and other states adopt recreational cannabis measures.

Here’s a look at Colorado’s previous cumulative yearly sales totals: 2014: $699,198,805 2015: $996,184,788 2016: $1,313,156,545

Sales stats for Colorado weed A month-by-month look comparing sales of recreational and medical marijuana, as calculated by The Cannabist:

Chart Showing 2017 growth for Colorado, one of the recreational weed states. Chart also includes sales of medical marijuana along with recreational marijuana

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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