Marijuana: Pot Sales Down, Patient Numbers Up in September

The "Red Card" currently being phased out by the state for a smaller, wallet-sized "Purple Card".
The "Red Card" currently being phased out by the state for a smaller, wallet-sized "Purple Card".

Medical marijuana patients paid more than $31.3 million for ganga and ganja-infused product in September, netting the state $908,630 in taxes.

Recreational sales were at just over $30.5 million during the same period, which means that MMJ sales outpaced recreational sales that month. In fact, sales of recreational pot dropped in September, down about $2.4 million from August. Denver saw the lion's share of recreational sales, with $14,491,206 sold in September.

See also: "Public Pot-Smoking Tickets Up Nearly 500 Percent in 2014"

Recreational sales accounted for $3,827,261 in tax revenue going to the state, bringing the total for the year for recreational pot to more than $25 million. The state also collects a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale recreational cannabis sales from shop to shop or from a grow to a shop, with the first $40 million going to public-school construction funds.

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According to state data, there was $9,640,700 in wholesale transfers during September, netting Colorado about $1.44 million in tax. Since recreational sales began in January, the state has collected about $8.2 million in excise tax; independent grow facilities were not allowed to begin operating until October.

The decrease in recreational pot sales from August to September mirrors a traditional drop in visitors between the peak summer visits and the season between early fall and December, when ski tourism starts to increase. But a drop in tourism doesn't explain a decrease in medical pot sales. Although the number of licensed patients increased by 577 between August and September -- to 116,287 purple-card holders -- MMJ sales dipped by $937,138 over the same period. That could be explained by the fact that between July and September, the number of patients who designated a medical marijuana center or caregiver went from 53 percent to 49 percent (historically, a strong majority has gone for dispensaries); more people might be growing their own.

The increase in patients from August to September included a jump in the number of minors, from 406 to 427. This time last year, there were only ninety kids under the age of eighteen on the registry. The increase is unquestionably due to heightened awareness of high-CBD treatments for children with severe seizure disorders. Stories of parents uprooting their lives and moving to Colorado have become common, as a recent Dallas Observer feature noted. But despite the increase in kids on the registry, the average age of all patients has remained steady at 42.

Other registry stats remain unchanged. For example, women still account for one-third of all patients, and nearly 60 percent of all patients live in the Denver metro area. Severe pain is still the most common reason for MMJ, with 90 percent of all patients reporting it as a qualifying condition.


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