Colorado cannabis stores set a new annual record by selling $1.74 billion worth of marijuana in 2019.
That represented an impressive 12.3% increase on sales of $1.55 billion generated in 2018, quelling fears that the industry was starting to plateau. The profusion of edibles, beverages and vapes helped drive growth in the sector, along with spiralling consumer for legal marijuana.
The state of Colorado earned $302,458,426 in tax revenue from marijuana sales, taking the total to just over $1.2 billion since recreational cannabis was legalized in 2014.
Tax revenue goes towards licensing and regulating the industry, along with substance abuse support and treatment, health research, local government schemes and the Colorado Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today fund.
Colorado was one of the first two states to permit legal marijuana sales, along with Washington. Its nascent industry enjoyed strong growth in the first few years, but then increased just 2.5% between 2017 and 2018, leading commentators to suggest it had peaked.
However, it has now surged back to double-digit growth and analysts are impressed to see sales growing despite a fall in prices. “To see it turn around in 2019 is a bullish indicator that price compression can’t keep the popularity of legal cannabis down,” said Tom Adams, managing director at market research firm BDS Analytics.
The firm’s research shows that people are buying legal cannabis products on a more frequent basis in Colorado, and any stigma previously associated with cannabis consumption has all but vanished. Other analysts praised Colorado for continuing to seize market share from the illicit market.
However, the illicit cannabis trade continues to thrive across the country. Sixty people died and thousands more were injured due to a lung illness outbreak in 2019, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed to illicit dealers adding vitamin E acetate to vape cartridges as a thickening agent.
David Lehmpuhl, dean of Colorado State University’s College of Science and Mathematics, said that outbreak has motivated it to launch a new cannabis course. The university’s Pueblo campus at CSU will offer a bachelor’s of science degree in cannabis starting this fall. Students can choose to focus either on the biology or the chemistry of cannabis.
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