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Colorado Sold Over $1.5 Billion of Legal Marijuana in 2017

Attendees at the Women Grow Leadership Summit in Denver learn how to roll joints.
Attendees at the Women Grow Leadership Summit in Denver learn how to roll joints.
Jacqueline Collins
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New sales revenue data from the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that the state's legal cannabis industry collected over $1.5 billion in 2017 and accounted for nearly $4.5 billion in sales since recreational stores first opened on January 1, 2014.

Overall dispensary sales rose in December for the first time since August 2017, according to DOR data, with revenue increasing over 7 percent from November ($119.56 million) to December ($128.27 million). Recreational sales in December accounted for around $96.34 million, while the medical side collected $31.92 million.

Colorado has seen sustained growth in cannabis sales revenue since introducing retail sales, increasing over 120 percent from 2014 to 2017. Much of that growth can be attributed to the rise in the number of communities allowing the pot business. Only 25 towns had legalized retail dispensaries in 2015, compared to 75 today, according to a combination of MED and Westword listings data, and that doesn't count the unincorporated counties that allow retail stores. All of those new spots for pot sales has resulted in a canna-boom: There were 147 licenses issued for retail dispensaries and 192 for retail cultivations in 2014, according to the DOR; as of February 2018, there are 518 retail dispensary licenses and 722 retail cultivations. 

Colorado cannabis revenue from 2014 to 2018
Colorado cannabis revenue from 2014 to 2018
Colorado Department of Revenue

Although 2017 represents the industry's biggest year for sales yet, it also represents the smallest annual growth. Revenue increased from 2016 to 2017 — a gain of just over $200 million — but that increase was nearly 36 percent less than the annual gains from 2015 to 2016 and 2014 to 2015.

Although 2017 was a record-breaking year for total sales, the DOR data doesn't reflect sales for 2018, when California — the world's largest legal pot market based on its medical sales alone — started retail sales and United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded several years of protective federal guidelines for cannabis businesses and consumers.

Thanks to recent updates to the DOR website, you can monitor Colorado's cannabis industry going forward, with data on sales and tax revenue, pot business licenses and more.

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