Colorado Marijuana Sales Already Top $1 Billion in 2017

Marijuana sales continue to show annual growth, according to Colorado's monthly tax revenue data.
Marijuana sales continue to show annual growth, according to Colorado's monthly tax revenue data. Scott Lentz
Colorado marijuana sales continue to hit new milestones, surpassing $1 billion in sales two months earlier in 2017 than they did in 2016, according to tax-revenue data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. Totaling retail and medical marijuana sales tax from sales largely made through August 2017, Westword's calculations show that Colorado's cannabis industry had made over $1.02 billion in sales...with four months left to go.

Industry sales didn't break the $1 billion mark in 2016 until after the end of October, according to DOR tax-revenue data; sales were sitting at a little less than $847 million at the end of August in 2016. The new sales totals represent a year-over-year increase of 21 percent.

Although the DOR's month-by-month tax data was just released in October and says it's from September, the vast majority of the sales figures were pulled from the end of August, with late and incomplete tax returns from prior months also slightly affecting the numbers. The data also includes tax revenue from the second month of a new tax format, which raised the special sales-tax rate for retail marijuana from 10 to 15 percent. The new tax rates, which began in July, also removed retail pot products from the 2.9 percent standard state sales tax that medical marijuana and accessories fall under.

"Due to this tax change, the marijuana industry is in a period of transition. The value reported here may include, but is not limited to: errors filed by taxpayers that may be corrected by amended returns in the future, prior period return payments, and 2.9% state sales tax collected on accessories," the DOR explains in the report.

With the new tax rates in effect, comparing monthly sales from past years isn't as clear now as it once was, but overall they show continued growth in Colorado cannabis sales despite more states legalizing retail cannabis and reports of declining wholesale marijuana prices. According to a recent study, some of that steady growth could be the result of growing consumer budgets.

A survey from student-loan platform LendEDU asked 1,000 cannabis consumers 21 and older in states that have legalized recreational marijuana how much money they spend each month on pot products, and the results show signs of regular use. The average amount spent on cannabis was over $110 on more than six products per month, according to the study – and most of the respondents said they were actually spending less on weed than they were a year earlier.

Although over 54 percent of respondents said they buy more pot than they did a year ago, 59 percent said the monthly cost of their habit has decreased. Still, a good portion of users aren't accounting for pot when portioning their paychecks, the study shows: Only 51.1 percent of respondents said they include marijuana purchases in their monthly budgets. (Let's hope the 27.6 percent that spend more on pot than eating out are part of that scrupulous group.)

However, LendEDU views the slight majority of budgeteers as an encouraging sign of consumer awareness. "The fact that more consumers are budgeting for marijuana than those that are not is a good thing; budgeting keeps your spending to a responsible limit and will prevent you from seeing red at the end of each month," its report notes.
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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