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Retail Marijuana Sales Reached a New High in March as Medical Sales Falter

Inside Colorado Harvest Company's Aurora dispensary.EXPAND
Inside Colorado Harvest Company's Aurora dispensary.
Jacqueline Collins

As expected, Colorado's legal marijuana revenue rose from February to March, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, with one of the sharpest monthly increases seen yet. After seeing the lowest overall revenue in a year in February, pot sales set a record for retail earnings the next month, bringing in nearly $106 million to top the previous record of $101.5 million in August 2017.

Overall sales in March hit just north of $135 million, according to DOR data, with medical sales barely crossing $29 million. Medical revenue's rise of a little less than $3 million from February was hardly a break in the dry spell such sales have seen in the last year. Colorado marijuana sales dropped from January to February, only to shoot back up in March every year since 2014, but medical sales earned about $8 million less this year than in March 2017.

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The 23 percent rise in recreational sales month-over-month still spurred March toward one of Colorado's best for overall sales, the DOR says, only being topped by July, August and September of 2017, all of which earned anywhere from $135.8 to $138 million. However, each of those months also made at least 17 percent more in medical sales than March 2018.

If 2018 follows trends from 2014, when recreational sales began, then the industry should expect rising revenue on the retail side as the summer nears. That spark started in April thanks to the 4/20 holiday, according to dispensary sales tracker Flowhub, which reported that nationwide, dispensary sales were around 50 percent higher than the daily average on April 20, 2017.

Colorado's record-breaking month in retail sales shows continued growth despite more regional competition, as Nevada and California began recreational marijuana sales in July 2017 and January 2018, respectively. According to the Nevada Department of Taxation, Nevada earned roughly $33 million in revenue per month through the first eight months of retail pot sales, while a recent report from dispensary analytics firm BDS Analytics says California dispensaries sold around $339 million of products through February 2018.

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