According to a new report by The Denver Post, marijuana sales in Colorado set a new monthly record in May. The sales in May break a record that’s been in place since legal sales begin way back in 2014.
According to the report, licensed legal marijuana retail outlets and medical marijuana dispensaries sold $192,175,937 worth of products in May. This is based on data from the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. The Denver Post notes that these numbers mark 29% from April and an increase of 32% from May 2019.
Sales at both medical and recreational pot shops hit monthly all-time highs, at $42,989,322 and $149,186,615, respectively. Collectively, both sectors have sold more than $779 million in 2020 and paid more than $167 million in taxes and fees to the state.
Roy Bingham, co-founder and executive chairman of BSDA analytics firm, said a confluence of several factors caused by the pandemic are likely causing the increase in sales. For one, many people may have more leisure time and are spending more time at home, where cannabis is typically consumed. Existing marijuana consumers also are buying more each time they go to the dispensary, a trend that started with stocking up in March when Colorado went under a statewide stay-at-home order.
“Everyone has perhaps become more used to consuming a little more,” Bingham said.
After losing market share to products like edibles, flower is seeing a rebound in sales likely driven by drops in price, he said. According to BDSA, cannabis buds were going for $4.37 per gram in May, down from about $4.71 per gram in January.
“It’s beginning to look like cannabis is anti-recession, or at least COVID-recession resistant,” Bingham said, adding Colorado has experienced “spectacular growth” this year.
Liz Connors, director of analytics for Headset, which also tracks consumer trends, expects sales will continue to build on that in June and July as tourism increases.
Dispensaries in the Centennial State were deemed essential businesses during the early days of the pandemic and the statewide stay-at-home order. So far, monthly cannabis sales this year have consistently outpaced 2019, which was the highest-grossing year on record.
You can find a full month-by-month breakdown of sales since they begin in 2014 by clicking here.
Legal marijuana sales, and thus taxes, aren’t the only benefits Colorado is seeing from legal cannabis: They’ve also experienced a rise in tourism.
According to a study published earlier this year, both Washington and Colorado saw a significant increase in tourism associated with the legalization of marijuana. For the study researchers compared rates of hotel occupancy in Colorado and Washington following legalization, and compared it with other states. They found a “large increase in hotel rooms rented in Colorado” following legalization.
“[L]egalization in Colorado is associated with an increase of nearly 51,000 hotel rooms rented per month [and] once commercial sale is permitted, there is an increase of almost 120,000 room rentals per month,” found the authors, who conclude:
“Marijuana legalization led to a larger increase in tourism in Colorado than Washington. One possible explanation is that Colorado is an easier travel destination than Washington. … Another possible explanation is that Colorado may have achieved a first mover advantage over Washington since it legalized commercial sale six months earlier than Washington. A third possible explanation is that Washington is adjacent to British Columbia which has a strong reputation for growing marijuana and a laid-back attitude toward marijuana consumption (though use remains illegal). While marijuana legalization increased tourism, especially in Colorado, the benefit may wane as additional states including California, Michigan, and Illinois, legalize the possession and sale of marijuana.”