Colorado's cannabis industry continued to churn in May, the twelfth consecutive month in which marijuana sales topped $100 million in this state.
BDS Analytics calculates that the state's marijuana revenue tax data for May, just released by the Colorado Department of Revenue, shows that medical and recreational marijuana sales combined account for nearly $127.7 million. Recreational sales in May reached over $90.1 million, while medical sales brought in a little more than $37.5 million.
The cannabis industry accounted for almost $620 million in sales from the beginning of 2017 through May, with over $95 million of that trickling down to the state in taxes and fees, Westword's calculations show.
While May shows consistent growth, it still didn't reach March's sales numbers, which saw over $100 million in retail sales alone and over $131 million overall. Still, May's sales amounted to an almost 30 percent rise over the previous year, according to DOR data, bringing in over $18.5 million in sales tax revenue and nearly $1.1 million in licensing and fees.
Despite declining prices for product at dispensaries, revenue continues to stay well above the $100 million mark, with some months experiencing sharp annual bumps.
"While the growth rate has slowed down a little, we've had a few months this year where they accelerated above their trend line. A few months, like February and March, grew closer to 60 or 70 percent above the previous year instead of 30 percent," says Greg Shoenfeld, BDS director of retail relations. "There's still a lot to understand as to why that's happening. Are consumers purchasing more, or is cannabis extending into new parts of the consumer populations? We're still figuring that out."
Schoenfeld says that although DOR data provides solid, helpful numbers on tax revenue, it's not always going to be a crystal-clear reflection of true sales. An asterisk on the bottom of state tax-revenue sheets states that collections could include revenue for late filings and corrections from previous months, and some shops don't even pay their taxes, he notes.
While Colorado is now mid-way through its third year of recreational sales, sales of recreational marijuana in Nevada started on July 1, and California is gearing up for its foray into retail pot. "Colorado is still the biggest retail market," Schoenfeld says. "And the sky hasn't fallen. We're raising more and more taxes."
According to BDS, cannabis sales revenue was up 28 percent overall from April 2016 to April 2017, accounting for $1.4 billion in Colorado. Recreational sales shot up 45 percent in that time, ringing up $975 million in sales.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.