There are only seven marijuana dispensaries in Aspen.
But they are presumably as busy as liquor stores in the community — and sometimes more so.
According to newly released City of Aspen statistics, alcohol sales exceeded marijuana sales in the community in 2015.
But during two months of the year — March and April — cannabis was king.
The numbers were shared by the Aspen Times, which points out that separate marijuana and alcohol sales stats for 2015 represent a first for the community.
Previously, officials feared that splitting the figures would reveal too much about the amount of money being collected by such a small number of dispensaries.
According to the Times, marijuana sales during 2015 came to $8,347,557 — digits that translated to $200,341 in city sales tax.
In comparison, alcohol sales (excluding booze sold at restaurants and bars) topped $9.6 million and bested marijuana in ten of twelve months last year, with the most substantial margin coming in December — presumably due to holiday liquor sales.
The results in April were different, Likely due to a 4/20 boost, $455,935 in marijuana was sold — around $13,000 more than the alcohol total.
The disparity was even greater in March, a big spring-break month. Marijuana sales came to an impressive $998,418, more than $140,000 beyond the alcohol sales amount.
Law enforcement types in Aspen don't seem panicked by this shift. Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn tells the Times that recreational marijuana legalization has actually decreased the workload for the average cop on the force "because officers don't have to seize the drug when they find it on people and then deal with the corresponding paperwork such action used to necessitate," the paper reports.
Linn adds: “Marijuana doesn’t exactly whip people into a frenzy to act out or go to a bar and pick a fight. There’s no question that a person who’s been smoking marijuana is a lot less likely to pose a threat than someone drunk on alcohol.”
His biggest complaint about pot: He smells it whenever he walks around town — meaning people are disobeying public-use laws.
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Also quoted in the piece is Garrett Patrick, who owns STASH, the Aspen dispensary whose photos illustrate this post. He predicts that marijuana sales will outdistance alcohol sales in the future.
And the way things are going, that future could be just around the corner.