Colorado: A Record $2.22 Billion In Sales

Dispensary grow in Denver, Colorado Photo: Shutterstock

Colorado sets record with $2.22 billion in marijuana sales last year
State has set high mark each of the past eight years; total sales top $12 billion

Colorado’s marijuana industry can celebrate 2021 as a record-breaking year with over $2.22 billion in sales.

The new milestone follows a trend that’s grown since marijuana sales started in January 2014. Each calendar year has welcomed higher numbers, with the latest bar set in 2020 at over $2.19 billion, the state’s Revenue Department reports.

“We’ve hit a record each year since sales began,” said Shannon Gray, marijuana communications specialist at the department’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. Thursday’s announcement “Isn’t really out of the ordinary, but more notable that we continue year after year to see an increase.”

In total, Colorado has sold a whopping amount of weed over the past eight years: more than $12 billion. The data spawns from the state’s marijuana sales reports, which track monthly sales made by both medical and retail marijuana stores by county.

For Jocelyn Ayala, general manager at Third Day Apothecary, a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado Springs, “it doesn’t surprise me at all that sales were up” last year, she said in a phone interview. Ayala, who’s worked in the cannabis industry for six years, noted that January and February are typically the dispensary’s slowest months, but she’s already seen an uptick in 2022.

She attributes the marijuana industry’s increasing sales to both the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed consumers to consider the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and the amplifying of public discourse around weed.

“It’s just becoming less taboo as the years go on,” Ayala said. “You’re seeing more professional people speak out about the benefits of cannabis, which is making other people who normally wouldn’t want to try it feel more comfortable.”

Colorado has also collected its share of tax revenue from marijuana sales, because of the 2.9% state sales tax on weed sold in stores, the 15% state retail marijuana sales tax, and the 15% state retail marijuana excise tax, which applies to wholesale sales and transfers. The government receives additional fee revenue, which stems from marijuana license and application fees.

Last year, the state received over $423 million in tax and fee revenue. This January, it’s already racked up almost $31 million.

Colorado’s government has amassed over $2 billion in tax and fee revenue collections since February 2014.

Adam Goers, Columbia Care’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, sees the 2021 marijuana sales surge as more than taxes for the state government — it offers jobs for Coloradans. His company operates The Green Solution brand and its sister brand, Medicine Man, with 26 retail locations and several cultivation and processing sites throughout the state.

“Those are head-of-household jobs,” he said in a phone interview. “These are great places to work.”

Looking forward at 2022, “there’s just too many unknowns to predict at this point” whether this year will break another sales record, Gray said, citing different elements at play, such as potential changes in consumption and other states joining the marijuana market.

Still, Goers notices that Colorado’s younger demographic is sparking consumers’ curiosity in trying marijuana products. That factor, along with the consideration of cannabis businesses as essential during the pandemic, makes him confident about this year’s performance.

“2022 is yet once again going to be the best year for cannabis in Colorado,” Goers said. “I think we’ve got a lot of good years coming ahead, too.”