Prediction: Colorado Dispensaries Will Sell $1 Billion Worth of Weed in 2016

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Colorado sold a little less than $1 billion worth of legal pot to consumers last year, but an annual industry report expects that amount to increase in 2016.

The Marijuana Business Daily's yearly Marijuana Business Factbook holds high hopes for the legal pot trade, estimating the national market to be worth up to $44 billion annually by 2020. But as one of the few states that currently has a legal marijuana industry, Colorado's future is a little easier to forecast.

According to the Daily, the $408 million of products sold in Colorado medical dispensaries last year is expected to increase slightlyin 2016, to around $425 million. The $588 million made in recreational shops in 2015 should rise more quickly, the report says, with predicted sales of between $700 and $850 million. That would result in a potential haul of well over $1 billion.

An excerpt:

“The state’s two largest cities — Denver and Colorado Springs — have implemented or extended moratoriums on new medical and recreational businesses (Colorado Springs has never allowed rec businesses, and still doesn’t). This significantly limits opportunities for new players to get involved. Some areas of the state, and niches of the industry, also appear to be nearing saturation. Yet opportunities still exist, particularly for existing businesses and ancillary firms."

The Denver City Council extended a marijuana business moratorium set to expire in January for four more months as it wrestles with whether or not to extend the moratorium or adopt a citywide cap on pot-business location. Although it allows medical dispensaries, Colorado Springs banned recreational dispensaries before they were allowed to open for business in 2014. 

As of March 1, according to Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division, there were medical licenses for 753 cultivations, 514 dispensaries and 205 extraction labs in the state. As for recreational licenses, MED numbers show 503 cultivations, 424 dispensaries and 173 extraction labs. However, a state-approved license doesn't necessarily mean an open and running business, and many of the licenses for medical and recreational businesses share the same physical location.

“The projections reflect marijuana’s march toward the mainstream as it emerges from the shadows to become a respectable, above-board industry that is giving birth to scores of jobs, fostering new business opportunities and creating a broad ripple effect across the country,” Chris Walsh, managing editor of Marijuana Business Daily, said in a statement.

In 2016, a total of 255 marijuana business applications for dispensaries, cultivations and extraction labs were submitted to City of the Denver, according to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. 

Keep reading for marijuana events:

Lifetime Budds — a free networking session for anyone involved in the cannabis industry — will be held on Monday, March 21, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Maze Haus, 3704 Downing Street. There will be music, live art and munchies available, and bud and booze consumption (bring your own) is allowed. Registration is free, but donations are suggested. 21+

Christian/marijuana support group Stoners 4 Jesus — a church group whose members embrace the spiritual connection that cannabis brings them — holds weekly Bible-study meetings from 6 to 8 p.m. every Thursday at Quince Essential Coffee House.

The Speak Easy Vape Lounge and Cannabis Club in Colorado Springs will host the second round of its 2016 Canna-lympics on Saturday, March 26, from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. For $10 ($25 for VIP), attendees will compete in pot-smoking games like Twist, Stoned Stand Up, Best Blunt, Joint Fastest Blunt, Joint Bong-Pong and Tug-O-Weed.  21+

One of the biggest hemp-centric trade shows in the country returns to Loveland on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2. The NoCo Hemp Expo will take place at the Ranch Events Complex. Featuring over 100 vendors, more than fifty keynote speakers, state legislators, live entertainment, an investor summit and more, this extensive conference will cover all things hemp, and then some. The first day is for business-to-business attendees only, but all ages are welcome to attend the expo day and its festivities on Saturday. Tickets are $15 for general admission.

Know of an event that should be in the Cannabis Calendar? Send it to marijuana@westword.com.

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