Colorado legalized medical cannabis in 2000 and then made history when it voted in recreational cannabis in 2012. While Colorado's legal medical and recreational sales didn't quite make it to the $1-billion mark predicted for 2015, they did come incredibly close. According to new data from the state Department of Revenue, Colorado sold $996,184,788 worth of recreational and medical cannabis last year.
That's a jump of more than $250-million over Colorado's 2014 sales of recreational and medical cannabis, which hit $699-million.
On the ground, businesses are fighting to keep up, says Adam Curtis, the owner of The Giving Tree of Denver, which specializes in edibles and serves hundreds of customers each week with hand-trimmed, hand-watered medical cannabis grown in organic soil that the dispensary grows itself.
He also serves recreational customers, and can't supply his entire business with the cannabis he grows.
"As a small mom and pop it's hard to keep up with that demand," says Curtis. "So we will purchase wholesale."
"I feel there's a point where the quality will go down with increased production: time will tell."
In Colorado, totals for taxes and license fees also skyrocketed from $76-million in 2014, to $135-million in 2015. The school-funding 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers hit $35-million in 2015, compared with $13.3-million in 2014.
"In other words, while sales are soaring across the nation, Colorado still has the rest of the U.S. beat when it comes to buying legal weed," writes Alibaba Pierce of MarijuanaPolitics.com.
If the upward sales trend continues, 2016 will be the year Colorado smashes the $1 billion mark. And with states including Nevada, California, Maine, and Arizona poised to legalize recreational cannabis this year, it's an instructive example of what legal recreational and medical sales could mean for the rest of the country.