Business

Colorado Marijuana Sales on Pace to Wheeze by Previous Record

Colorado has now collected over $2 billion in marijuana tax revenue at the state level since recreational sales began in 2014.
Colorado has now collected over $2 billion in marijuana tax revenue at the state level since recreational sales began in 2014. Jacqueline Collins
Colorado is on pace to report another record year in marijuana sales in 2021, according to data from the state Department of Revenue. But it could be close.

New figures from the DOR show that medical and recreational marijuana sales combined for $158.4 million in November, pushing the 2021 total to just over $2.06 billion for the year — with one month of sales figures left to be reported.

In order for Colorado to break 2020's record of $2.19 billion in sales, dispensaries must have logged just over $130 million in sales in December. Although Colorado pot shops have crossed that mark every December since 2018 and generally see a bump in traffic during the holiday season, sales have been on a steady decline in the second half of 2021.

November's $158.4 million in sales represented a 10 percent drop on both a monthly and annual basis, according to DOR data; November was the sixth straight month in which 2021's monthly totals came in lower than last year's. The drop in sales coincides with a 28 percent decrease in wholesale marijuana prices and is expected to continue through 2022, according to a recent economic forecast from the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting.

Cannabis business owners believe that self-isolation, government stimulus payments and temporary unemployment benefits during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a bump in marijuana sales in 2020 and early 2021, with sales from the latter half of 2021 marking a return to the norm.

Although the sales record hasn't been broken yet, Colorado has already reached a new high in marijuana tax revenue, according to the DOR, which releases tax data a month before sales figures. All told in 2021, Colorado collected nearly $423.5 million in tax revenue and licensing fees from the marijuana industry, a 7.3 percent increase from the year before.

With December's tax numbers reported, Colorado has now collected over $2 billion total in marijuana tax revenue at the state level since recreational sales began in 2014.
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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 westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell