Marijuana Sales Drop in May as Prices Increase

Despite a slower than aanticipated May, 2021 is still on track to break last year's mark of $2.19 billion in marijuana sales.
Despite a slower than aanticipated May, 2021 is still on track to break last year's mark of $2.19 billion in marijuana sales. Jacqueline Collins
Marijuana sales dipped slightly in May as prices increased, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, but 2021 is still shaping up as another record-breaking year for the state's pot industry.

Dispensaries sold just over $194 million in marijuana products in May, a 6 percent drop from the $206.3 million sold in April, DOR data shows. However, May's marijuana sales figures have beaten April's only three times since recreational sales began in Colorado in 2014, with 2020 — when marijuana sales jumped around 23 percent from April to May during the COVID-19 pandemic — emerging as a major outlier.

This year is still on track to break 2020's record-breaking mark of $2.19 billion in marijuana sales in Colorado, but increasing prices and supply fluctuation could cut back the total, according to a June economic forecast from the Governor's Office of State Planning and Budget, which reported that state tax revenue from marijuana in 2021 is now expected to come in about $2.8 million lower than a March prediction.

Earlier this month, the DOR announced that the median price per pound of marijuana had increased slightly since April, to $1,309, but commercial growers estimate that the average price was higher.

Data cited by the governor's office forecast pointed to a rising imbalance between marijuana supply and demand as the culprit behind the price hikes, with "relatively stronger increases" in excise taxes collected from wholesale marijuana transactions during the span.

"Expansion of the consumer base and higher average transaction size continue to boost marijuana sales through increased demand for marijuana. Relatedly, these demand pressures have also elevated the imbalance between demand for and supply of marijuana, thus keeping marijuana prices elevated," the report noted. "While each of these effects is seen through elevated marijuana collections across the board, the supply effects, in particular, help to explain the relatively stronger increases in 15 percent excise tax collections, as these collections are more responsive to higher market prices."

Recreational marijuana sales amounted to $157.2 million in May, according to the DOR, with medical marijuana sales hitting about $36.7 million. Despite the drop from April, May's pot sales did increase slightly on an annual basis in May, with just barely less than $2 million more in sales in 2021 than in May 2020. But while recreational sales grew, medical marijuana sales were nearly 15 percent lower than in May 2020.
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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