Mile High Money: Colorado Cannabis Sales Total $1.5 Billion in 2017
Locals and tourists alike spent over a billion dollars on recreational marijuana, bringing in nearly $250 million in tax revenue to state coffers.
Published on February 13, 2018

Photo via The Green Room

Since opening the first adult-use cannabis retail dispensary in 2014, Colorado has been synonymous with America’s burgeoning green rush. And in its fourth year of trailblazing, the Centennial State has only grown further, reporting a record breaking $1.51 billion in legal weed sales in 2017.

According to a report from the Colorado Department of Revenue and first reported by the Denver Post, $1.09 billion of that cash came from the adult-use recreational market, with an additional $416.52 million from medical sales. Cannabusinesses aren’t the only beneficiaries — the cumulative tax revenue from these sales totaled more than $247 million, a windfall for Colorado’s state budget. However as other states around the country continue to welcome cannabis reform and construct local weed economies of their own, Colorado’s sales growth has continued, but slowed slightly in pace.

From 2015 to 2016, Colorado’s retail weed market grew from $996 million to $1.3 billion, or nearly 24%. And while 2017’s one and a half billion dollar sales total is monumental for an industry that was illegal less than half a decade ago, it is a 14% increase from 2016, significantly smaller than previous annual turnovers.

Furthermore, a closer look at the sales numbers by Cannabist reporter Alicia Wallace found that while pot shops in and around Denver’s urban hub sold the most weed overall, Las Animas County, a small rural community on Colorado’s southern border with New Mexico, led the state in per capita cannabis sales, with a whopping $3,100 in sales for each of the county’s 14,083 residents.

Assuming that a portion of those Las Animas sales are from New Mexico residents who don’t have a recreational cannabis program of their own, and would likely disappear as customers if the Land of Enchantment were to fully legalize cannabis itself, Colorado’s statewide incremental sales growth could slow even further as neighboring states embrace legal weed.

For now though, Centennial State cannabusinesses are still raking in cash, and customers from near and far continue to flock to Colorado to get a taste of the high life.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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