Ryan Griego owns a recreational pot shop in southern Colorado, and he’s putting out a bold, informed estimate saying that a decidedly clear majority of his customers are from outside of Colorado.
“80 percent of my customers are coming from other states, predominantly Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Arizona,” said Griego, owner of Cannasseur in Pueblo West, which opened its doors in May for recreational marijuana sales. “I knew there would be out-of-state customers coming in, but I thought it would be more of a 30-70 split with 30 percent of my customers from out of state. But it’s more severe than that on the flip flop.”
Out-of-state tourists account for 44 percent of all retail sales in the Denver area and about 90 percent in mountain resorts such as Aspen or Telluride, according to a recent study produced by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. But for a shop in Pueblo — hardly considered in the same tourism league as Aspen or Telluride — to make 80 percent of its sales to out-of-state visitors is something of an anomaly, even given Pueblo’s proximity (less than 100 miles) to the New Mexico state line.
Point counterpoint on pot tourism:
So how did Griego land at these figures, especially given the state of Colorado’s restrictions on tracking recreational customers’ information?
“We have a media group that we hired on, and they monitor all of our social media and Google analytics, and we’ve paid close attention to the progression of people searching on PCs and mobile devices,” Griego said. “A lot of these numbers come from inside the store. Everyone has to show an ID — and we check IDs twice, once in reception and again in the dispensing area. Plus our budtenders are always making friendly conversation, asking people where they’re from.”
Sure, 80 percent is Griego’s educated guess. But while he knows he sees traffic locally as well as from nearby, weedless Colorado towns — “Colorado Springs, Walsenburg, Trinidad, La Junta,” he said — he says definitively that he sees more Texans than anybody else.
Not surprisingly the out-of-state customers are also spending more than the Coloradans, he said.
More on marijuana tourism:
“These out-of-state consumers are spending much more than locals,” Griego said. “They’re spending about twice as much as locals, about $120-$140. Edibles are the most popular with these people. Out-of-state customers can buy up to 7 grams of cannabis total. So you’ll see them buy 1-2 grams of bud and the rest of their allotment will be made up of edible products.”
Since it’s illegal to cross state boundaries with legally purchased Colorado marijuana, does Griego and his staff inform these customers about that very serious state law?
“When people come in, we’re all about safety and state compliance and we make sure that the out-of-state consumers are aware than what they’re purchasing is for in-state consumption only,” said Griego, “and we also remind them that they can’t do it in public.”