The Colorado Department of Revenue has revealed that the state has topped $6 billion in legal cannabis sales since 2014.
Last year, cannabis sales in Colorado were valued at nearly $1.55 billion, a slight increase over the $1.5 billion recorded in 2017. Colorado collected more than $266.5 billion, up nearly eight percent from the $247 collected in 2017 in sales revenue. To date, Colorado has collected over $927 million in cannabis taxes, licenses and fees.
Since 2016, Colorado has seen a steady decline in medical cannabis sales, while recreational sales continue to rise. In 2018, Colorado saw a 20 percent decrease in medical cannabis sales from the previous year, dropping from $416 million to $332 million.
The money collected in tax revenue by Colorado is used for repairs and maintenance of public schools and for funding programs. Unfortunately, the money was never intended to be used for things like teacher salaries, which infuriated teachers in Denver and they went on strike, demanding a pay raise. In 2017, legislators allocated $30 million in cannabis sales tax for the state’s rural school districts; however, none of the districts put the money toward salaries because raises the next year would have to be funded from a different source.
The success of Colorado’s legal cannabis market contrasts with California’s legal cannabis market, which began recreational cannabis sales in January 2018. California has struggled due to high costs and competition from the black market. Cannabis tax revenue in California came in $101 million short of projections after the first six months of legal cannabis sales. The state has blamed high taxes and limited access to banking as problems the legal cannabis industry is facing.
Colorado’s cannabis industry doesn’t show any signs of slowing. In October, the Colorado Department of Revenue said that cannabis business licenses made up 77 percent of all new licenses in the first half of 2018.