Weed Is Officially a Billion-Dollar Industry in Colorado

The state sold $1.3 billion in recreational and medical marijuana in 2016, though experts think the boom will eventually level off.

by Brian Moylan
Feb 10 2017, 8:13pm

Photo via Flickr user Brett Levin

In its third year since legalizing recreational marijuana, the Colorado dispensaries took in $1.3 billion in legal weed sales, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Recreational marijuana accounted for about two-thirds of 2016's haul, ringing in at $875 million in sales, compared with medical marijuana's $438 million, according to the Cannabist. The state took in $199 million in taxes and fees, too, which is usually put toward law enforcement, building schools, and helping the homeless

This is the third year in a row that weed sales have increased in the state, but the first time they broke the ten-figure mark. In 2014, the state sold $699.2 million, followed by $996.2 million in 2015. Pot prognosticators think that 2017 will break another record, but after that, they expect Colorado's kush boom to level off.

The expected downturn is due to a number of factors, including increased competition as more states begin to legalize the drug. Some of those states, like Maine and Massachusetts, won't have their regulations in place until 2018, which is why Colorado will still likely reap the benefits next year. Weed prices nationally have already dipped a bit, signaling an influx of product in the market that might be starting to exceed the demand. 

Still, the novelty is starting to wear off a bit. According to the Denver Post, the Colorado Tourism Office found that fewer people were visiting the state solely to get stoned. Presumably snowboarders on vacation will still pick up an ounce or some edible gummies, but the tourism office saw a return of the "more usual Colorado traveler" in 2016, instead of those just looking to score legally. 

"It was a difficult year," Sally Vander Veer, president of large Denver dispensary Medicine Man, told the Cannabist. "We're still seeing a steady increase in the number of customers and patients, but [sales] numbers are pretty flat." 

recreational marijuana
tax revenue