CO: Denver No Longer A Weed Capital Once Rest Of U.S. Legalizes

Photo Credit: Miles Chrisinger

Denver’s status as the country’s legal cannabis capital is in jeopardy now that California has started recreational sales, but one study shows that the Mile High City wouldn’t just take a step back if the rest of the world followed suit — it would become irrelevant. There are some questions about how the study’s figures apply to Denver, though.

According to cannabis growing company Seedo, larger American cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix would be poised to see the most tax revenue if the country legalized pot, while Denver would slip down to number twelve on that list. Seedo calculated the order by studying a city’s estimated total consumption of cannabis per year and average price per gram of flower, then applying the average tax rates of legal pot and cigarettes to those figures for comparison.

While much of the list’s order correlates with population — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix are the five biggest cities in the country — the average price per gram was noticeably lower in Denver and Seattle, which have both allowed retail sales since 2014. The study also estimated Denver’s projected revenue, but it didn’t need to, because Denver has collected actual cannabis tax revenue figures since 2014.

Although the study estimates Denver’s annual earnings at a little over $9 million, the City of Denver collected nearly $4 million from pot revenue in December 2017 alone, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue — and that was a down month compared to March through June.

The study also compared 120 different cities throughout the world to see which would see the most revenue if marijuana were legalized around the globe, and found that while New York would top the chart, Cairo would see the next-biggest boom from a green rush. Considering Egypt’s strict drug laws, though, it’s hard to imagine anyone legally lighting up a spliff next to the Great Pyramid anytime soon. Other surprising entries in the top-ten list were Moscow and Karachi, Pakistan.