For Colorado’s six-year-old legal marijuana industry, 2019 was a new high.
Cannabis dispensaries in the state sold more than $1.74 billion worth of marijuana products, a record total.
The staggering findings were released by the Colorado Department of Revenue, and first reported by Westword.
The $1.74 billion figure represents a significant jump for the marijuana industry in the state after back-to-back years of stagnant revenue. In 2017, marijuana dispensaries in the state sold a little more than $1.5 billion in cannabis products—at the time, a high-water mark for Colorado, which legalized recreational pot in 2012 and implemented the law in 2014.
Sales didn’t improve much in 2018, with the number climbing only to $1.54 billion. Tom Adams, managing director at cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics, told CNN that he attributes the big jump in 2019 to the proliferation of non-flower marijuana products, such as edibles and vape pens, while he said the sluggish growth in 2017 and 2018 was likely the result of price drops.
“To see it turn around in 2019 is a bullish indicator that price compression can’t keep the popularity of legal cannabis down,” Adams said.
The Rise of Reefer
A study released last year supported Adams’ point: an investigation published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that the percentage of teens in Colorado who reported eating cannabis rose from two percent in 2015 to 10 percent in 2017, while the percentage of those who said they dabbed rose from four percent to 7.5 percent.
“These modes are important to monitor because of their unique psychoactive associations, and potential harms, including unintentional overconsumption with edibles and an increased physiological tolerance and withdrawal associated with the high tetrahydrocannabinol levels of cannabis concentrates used for dabbing,” the study said.
Colorado, along with Washington state, made history in 2012 when voters approved a measure to end the prohibition on recreational pot use. The law officially took effect at the beginning of 2014. Since then, according to the state’s department of revenue, Colorado marijuana dispensaries have produced more than $7.78 billion worth of sales.
Last year, those marijuana sales in Colorado more than $300 million in tax and licensing revenue—also a new high. All told, the state has generated more than $1.2 billion in tax and licensing revenue since the law officially took effect in 2014.