Colorado sold a record-breaking $1.75 billion worth of legal, licensed weed in 2019, the most the Centennial State has sold since it became the first US state to launch recreational marijuana sales in 2014.
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, sales in 2019 broke the previous year’s sales record by 13 percent, when the Centennial State sold $1.55 billion worth of weed. The most successful month in 2019, by the way, wasn’t April; it was August, which came in at $173 million.
“People are moving from the unregulated market to the regulated market,” Truman Bradley, the executive director of the pot lobby the Marijuana Industry Group, told The Denver Post. “As Reefer Madness goes away, as the stigmatism of cannabis reduces and people come over to the regulated market, I would expect that trend to continue.”
That the trend has continued unabated for six years is somewhat surprising, especially given that several states — including California, where legal pot sales raked in an estimated $3.1 billion in 2019 — have since legalized adult-use weed in recent years. A sizable portion of Colorado’s pot sales come from out-of-state tourists, and now that Michigan and Illinois can cater to Americans who live closer to the Midwest and East Coast states, Colorado’s sales numbers may dip by the end of 2020 — may being the key word there.
In January 2019, newly elected Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the so-called “First Pot Governor,” half-joked that he wanted to see other US states take their sweet time with rolling out weed legalization, if they legalized at all.
“As one of the first states to implement it, we get a lot of extra business from people coming into our state,” Polis said during an interview on NPR’s “Here & Now.” “So, from the economic perspective in Colorado, I’d love other states to go slowly so that we can continue to see all these benefits for Colorado.”
To highlight Colorado’s success under federal prohibition, Polis cited the small town of Trinidad, which sits right on the border between Colorado and New Mexico. Trinidad, nearly became a ghost town several years ago after its mining operations moved to Texas, but then experienced an economic revival after opening 13 licensed pot shops and several cannabis cultivation sites in the area. Most of Trinidad’s pot revenue comes from tourists traveling from New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona — all states that still have not legalized recreational weed.
“For years, I’d been sort of countering this sort of dire picture of Colorado,” Polis continued. “But again, if they think that it’s bad, it’s better for us to have less competition at this point. So, I mean, if I’m looking at it as governor, I would hope they halt their efforts and send all their business here.”