In its first recreational year, Colorado sold $700 million of medical and recreational marijuana, covering 75 tons of cannabis flower and 50 million units of pot edibles, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Annual Report. The really big news though is that recreational weed accounted for a full 45% of this revenue, despite this sub-sector’s infancy, launching its first store on 1st Jan. 2014, vis-à-vis the medicinal sector’s 15 year longevity in Colorado. As far as weight goes, sales included 74 tons of cannabis flower, which means nearly 150,000 pounds of weed to you and me. Crucially, we note that official sales tracked by the state government is only part of the growth story, which also includes paraphernalia, a budding tourist industry, and even new service companies catering strictly to cannabis users.
Recreational sales led medicinal in pot edibles and lagged in flowers. 49.7 tons of medical marijuana flowers were sold in 2014, while 17.5 tons were sold on the retail market. By contrast, recreational sales of pot-infused edible products, such as candies, cookies and, of course, brownies, outstripped medical sales by 2.85 million units to 1.96 million.
“The data reported into the system clearly illustrates a strong demand for edibles in general, but especially for retail marijuana edibles,” the report reads. “The edible trend suggests that retail marijuana products are a viable product for retail consumers.”
The trajectory of growth illustrated by the Report is probably its most amazing aspect. By December, Colorado recreational weed growers were cultivating more than 200,000 new plants each month to support their businesses, compared to just 25,000 in January, the first month of legal sales.
Guess where all the future job growth is coming from in this country – decent jobs, that is? You guessed it: the national marijuana industry, if Colorado is at all a template for future recreationally legal states. There were 15,992 people licensed to work in the state’s marijuana industry by year-end, up 143%, from 6,593 at the start of the year!
The report also tallies the number of dispensaries in Colorado: 322 recreational “pot stores” and 505 medical, for a total of 827, with a 60% concentration in the Denver area. Only one in five jurisdictions in Colorado allows both recreational and medical marijuana. This speaks to the industry’s nascency, and also begs the question why the heck don’t more Colorado jurisdictions legalize it, especially since 58% of the voters want to take weed out of the hands of the Black Market and have it as a source of tax revenue, especially for school funding, if nothing else. Nobody has supplied a good answer yet on that one.
By Robert Brand