Colorado Pot Revenue Shows No Signs of Slowing in 2018

Customers browse a Terrapin Care Station dispensary in Aurora.
Customers browse a Terrapin Care Station dispensary in Aurora. Jacqueline Collins
Colorado's cannabis industry has new competition from California and other states, but that hasn't seemed to affect sales here. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, dispensaries collected nearly $118 million in January 2018, up more than $10 million from the same month last year.

Recreational sales continues to be the driving force in Colorado, with retail revenue growing from around $76 million in January 2017 to $88.7 million — a 16.7 percent increase. Medical sales, however, are falling below a flatline, with January 2018's numbers nearly 8 percent lower than those from January 2017.

California opened for retail sales at the start of 2018. Unlike Colorado's DOR, no state agency in California issues reports on dispensary sales. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration does report state tax revenue quarterly, but numbers for the first period covering marijuana sales aren't expected until the middle of May.

In January, Governor Jerry Brown estimated that California could see around $643 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis in 2018. The DOR reports that during Colorado's first year of retail sales (2014), the state collected a little more than one-tenth of that, or $67.5 million.

Denver County was responsible for $577.5 million in cannabis sales last year, but it didn't start 2018 as strong as the rest of the state. Denver dispensaries accounted for almost $42 million in sales in January; if that rate continues for the year, the city is on pace to reach $504.8 million. Still, winter months have been the lowest-selling time for Denver pot shops in years past, and sales could heat up as the weather gets warmer and 4/20 approaches.

Colorado Department of Revenue

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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell