Colorado marijuana shops raked in a record $1.51 billion sales of medical and recreational cannabis, edibles and concentrate products during 2017, according to Colorado Department of Revenue data released Friday.
Adult-use sales topped $1.09 billion, with the remaining $416.52 million coming from medical marijuana. Colorado collected upward of $247 million in taxes and fees revenue from pot sales, according to state finance data. The previous record was in 2016 when pot shops did $1.3 billion in sales. Sales were $996 million in 2015.
Colorado’s marijuana industry may have notched a new high in 2017, and a record December of $128.27 million, but analysts and economists caution that sales may soon plateau, reports thecannabist. Those sales have been increasing at slower rates than in the early stages of recreational marijuana legalization. Cannabis sales in the state were up 15.3 percent in 2017. In 2016, sales grew 31 percent.
“I think what we’re starting to see is the leveling off of the market after the illicit market is absorbed,” said Adam Orens, a founding partner of Marijuana Policy Group LLC, a Denver-based economic and policy consulting firm focused on the cannabis industry.
Orens estimated that 90 percent of Colorado’s black market sales have been absorbed into the regulated market. “And we’re nearing the completion of that absorption,” he said.
As the pot industry matures in Colorado, it’s growth will come slower and become more heavily dependent upon factors such as population growth, he said. Miles Light, Orens’ colleague at Marijuana Policy Group, takes his projections a step further:
“I personally believe that sales will decline in 2018” versus 2017, he said.
While the bulk of Colorado’s recreational marijuana sales occurred in the state’s population hubs of Denver and Arapahoe counties, rural Las Animas County, population 14,083, led the state with more than $3,100 of recreational cannabis sold, on average, for every adult and child.
Las Animas County, which is on the Colorado-New Mexico border and bisected by Interstate 25, isn’t the only border county experiencing a green rush. An analysis of sales data by The Denver Post and Brian Keegan, a computational social scientist at the University of Colorado, shows that three of the five counties with the highest per-capita sales of recreational marijuana are situated along Colorado’s southern border.