A global pandemic and a major economic recession haven’t stopped Colorado's cannabis industry from selling over a billion dollars' worth of legal weed in only six months.
Between March and August of this year, Colorado dispensaries sold more than $1.1 billion of legal weed, according to the state Department of Revenue. This August alone, retailers sold $176.5 million of adult-use products and $42 million worth of medical marijuana, for a total sum of $218.6 million.
Nearly half of this revenue was collected in July and August alone. In July, dispensaries shifted $226.3 million worth of legal weed, the highest monthly sales figure since Colorado began selling pot in 2014. And even though sales declined slightly, August 2020 still marks Colorado’s second-highest monthly sales record.
This spring, state budget officials actually predicted that cannabis sales would shrink because the pandemic was crippling the local tourist industry. Wholesale pot prices also reached a three-year high in 2020, a trend that often pushes cannabis customers back to black market weed. But while the COVID-19 pandemic has crushed many other industries, the boredom and stress of the lockdown has led to a notable increase in cannabis and alcohol sales.
Starting in April, weed sales began to increase exponentially, and dispensaries began hitting $200 million in sales every single month of the summer. Instead of declining, August 2020 sales were actually 20 percent higher than last August's sales figures. Dispensaries located near the state's borders also saw a serious uptick in sales from out-of-state customers.
Colorado is not the only state to see massive boosts in weed sales during the pandemic. Oregon sold a record-breaking $89 million of legal weed in April, and Oklahoma sold an impressive $73 million worth of medical marijuana that same month.
Retail pot sales have been so strong, in fact, that analysts believe that the US cannabis industry will make more than $15 billion in total sales by the end of this year, a 40 percent increase over 2019. By 2023, that figure could exceed $37 billion.
Even in Illinois, where adult-use stores opened only two months before the lockdown began, retailers are still breaking sales records on a near-monthly basis. The success of the state's legal weed industry led Illinois regulators to declare that the cannabis industry is recession-proof and pandemic-proof, and Colorado's sales figures certainly support that conclusion.