Colorado's marijuana industry was off to a hot start in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to the state Department of Revenue.
Traditionally, February is the month with the year's lowest marijuana sales, and that will probably hold true for 2020, too. However, this past February's approximate $139.7 million in weed sales was over 99 percent of January's total, almost 15 percent higher than February 2019's $119.4 million, and almost 36 percent higher than February's average sales totals from 2014 to 2019.
The $139.7 million sold in February pushed Colorado's running marijuana sales total since 2014 past $8 billion, according to the DOR.
Combined dispensary sales from January and February hit $279.6 million, DOR data shows, easily the highest sales total for the first two months of the year since 2014, the first year of recreational pot sales in Colorado. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state in March, and its impact on pot sales has yet to be reported by the DOR.
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The pandemic's effect is expected to be significant. Dispensaries began reporting bulk purchasing and longer lines in mid-March, shortly after toilet paper began flying off grocery-store shelves. Later that month, recreational dispensaries were relegated to curbside and to-go sales through an executive order issued by Governor Jared Polis. Days later, Denver dispensaries thought they'd have to close altogether, under an order from Mayor Michael Hancock that he reversed within hours. But in the meantime, customers flooded dispensaries and spiked sales nearly 400 percent on the afternoon of May 23.
A few days after all of that, the state Marijuana Enforcement Division determined that customers could go back inside recreational dispensaries, as long as certain protocols were followed. In the meantime, though, all of the confusion and panic-buying had caused a lull in dispensary action, according to multiple pot shops. But then the first round of federal stimulus payments came just days before 4/20, and those two factors combined for one more big sales increase.
Now dispensary managers are prepared for another dip...and the month isn't even over. Will the March and April sales break records again? For confusion, at the very least....