Colorado’s monthly marijuana sales tore through records this summer, reaching an all-time high in July of nearly $123 million. That accounts for sales of both recreational and medicinal marijuana, and it represents a 27 percent boost from the sales of July 2015.
July marijuana sales also soared past the previous record, set in April 2016 (during a month that includes the yearly 4/20 marijuana holiday), which was $117.4 million. Medical sales accounted for about $41 million of that total, while recreational marijuana sales totaled about $77 million.
Meanwhile this July, sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado spiked at $83.8 million, according to the state’s department of revenue.
So what’s going on? There are a few different theories. For one thing, marijuana is becoming more mainstream. More people are trying it. More people are feeling free to buy it legally. More people are traveling from other parts of the country – or even other parts of the globe – to sample some sensimilla. On top of that, it was July, which means it’s the height of the summer party season. People are having backyard parties, there are concerts, festivals and all different kinds of events. People tend to be out-and-about more. School is out. More people are taking vacations, time off and traveling.
In general, this kind of pattern has been seen with alcohol too, so it makes sense that we’re seeing it now also with marijuana.
Historically, we’ve seen the most marijuana sales occur in July, August and September, state revenue officials report.
Another driving force was almost certainly the fact that Colorado lifted its previous restriction allowing tourists access to only a quarter ounce of the drug at any given time. As of June – the month before the sales spike – tourists are now allowed to buy and possess just as much as residents – up to one ounce a day/ at a time.
Including the July sales increase, the Colorado marijuana industry drummed up a total of more than $720 million in sales just in the first seven months of 2016. That’s a 34 percent increase from 2015, when a total of $538 million in sales were counted in the first seven months.
Of the total marijuana sales in 2016 so far, $465 million was from recreational marijuana. This gives us an idea in California of what we stand to gain by passing pro-marijuana legislation, especially when you consider that so far this year, the state has raked in almost $106 million in taxes and fees. Those go to bolster educational efforts, roadway construction and health programs.
Of course, the year-end 2015 total of $135 million represents just a small slice of the state’s $10 billion general revenue coffers, and it only chips away at the K-12 educational funding deficit of more than $830 million. Still, it doesn’t hurt.
Analysts estimate marijuana taxes will flatten out around $150 million each fiscal year. The state also has to consider how sales may fall once other states start passing similar legislation. Colorado is in a unique position now because it’s one of just four states that allow recreational marijuana use. Two of those – Alaska and Washington State – are largely inaccessible to most of the country, particularly those on the East Coast. That could change if/ when California approves medical marijuana.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Colorado pot shops post record-breaking sales figures topping $122 million in July, Sept. 12, 2016, By Alicia Wallace, The Cannabist
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Medical Marijuana May be Best Solution to Painkiller Epidemic, Sept. 3, 2016, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog