2014 marked the first official year of legal cannabis sales in the United States, ever, and Colorado sold a whopping $700 million worth of cannabis during this first year, according to official tax records.
According to The Cannabist and based on the numbers pulled from the official Department of Revenue this year, the cannabis sales total for the the tax year were $699,198,805. $385.9 million of that can be attributed to medical sales across the state, and $313.2 comes from recreational sales, squeaking by right behind the medical with some pretty impressive numbers.
“That’s an insane number, isn’t it?” stated Caitlin Murphy, who serves as the director of marketing at the Emerald Fields dispensary group, in an interview with The Cannabist. “We have very high hopes for the industry and where it’s going, and we know that the growth is going to be even bigger this year.” Murphey owns a dispensary in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and plans to open a second dispensary in that area this year.
“I think it’s an amazing number,” added Meg Collins, who works as the executive director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, when speaking with The Cannabist, “and it’s an amazing number when you put it into the context of what a success the industry and the state has had in regulating the safe sales of these products.”
These figures represent the official number that was calculated for tax purposes, and already shows enormous potential for the growth of the medical and recreational cannabis industries over the next few years, if legalization continues to move forward the way it has been.
“There have been hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales taking place in Colorado for a long time, and finally they’re taking place in regulated businesses,” said Mason Tvert, an advocate interviewed for The Cannabist who serves ascommunications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is a less harmful product than alcohol that countless adults choose to use, and they should be able to purchase it in a store like they would other legal products. Clearly a lot of them are choosing to do so.”
“We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” stated Colorado state Senator Pat Steadman, to The Cannabist. “There are still a lot of sales that are going on that aren’t in the regulated, legal market, and that’s part of the reason why the taxes weren’t as big as anticipated (in 2014). There is legislation being proposed this year talking about, ‘What can we do to provide a better regulatory environment for legal businesses to exist? What else can we do to try and stop the abuses going on around the fringe and to fully eradicate the illegal black market in our state… [I’m] feeling very encouraged by what we’re seeing so far. Everyone keeps calling this ‘Colorado’s experiment with marijuana legalization,’ but so far everything seems to be working better than planned. … Right now we’re still rolling things out, but it just seems to be rolling out smoother than anyone expected.”
These sales largely point to a diminishing of the black market for the cannabis industry, which is exactly what those who supported initial legalization hoped and predicted would happen. This also means that 2015 can expect even greater sales and tax revenue, since 2014 was the year that the industry was just getting on its feet. There is no doubt in our mind that the years to come will see an extreme increase in revenue all across the country as the industry continues to grow.