Colorado Pot Sales Hit A Record $1.5 Billion In 2017, And Border Towns Saw A Green Rush From Neighbors

Photo Credit: Hyoung Chang

Colorado marijuana shops raked in a record $1.51 billion sales of medical and recreational cannabis, edibles and concentrate products during 2017, according to Colorado Department of Revenue data released Friday.

Adult-use sales topped $1.09 billion during the year, with the remaining $416.52 million coming from medical marijuana. Colorado collected upward of $247 million in taxes and fees revenue from marijuana sales, according to state finance data. The previous record was in 2016, when marijuana shops did $1.3 billion in sales. Sales were $996 million in 2015.

While the bulk of Colorado’s recreational marijuana sales occurred in the state’s population hubs of Denver and Arapahoe counties, rural Las Animas County, population 14,083, led the state with more than $3,100 of recreational cannabis sold, on average, for every adult and child.

Las Animas County, which is on the Colorado-New Mexico border and bisected by Interstate 25, isn’t the only border county experiencing a green rush. An analysis of sales data by The Denver Post and Brian Keegan, a computational social scientist at the University of Colorado, shows that three of the five counties with the highest per-capita sales of recreational marijuana are situated along Colorado’s southern border.

“I think the one thing that jumps out is Las Animas has this huge disparity,” Keegan said. “And the fact that it’s on the New Mexico border would seem to suggest people are coming up and buying things there — whether or not it crosses state lines.”

Las Animas led the state in per-capita sales at $3,118, followed by neighboring Costilla County at $1,036. Montezuma County, encompassing the Four Corners region, was fifth at $735, according to calculations utilizing Colorado Department of Revenue sales data and Colorado State Demography Office population estimates.