For the first time in Colorado’s short legal marijuana history, recreational cannabis sales took a month-over-month dive in September, according to new data released by the state’s Department of Revenue.
Colorado’s retailers sold $31,626,965 in recreational marijuana in September — down 7.3 percent from August’s retail sales of $34,125,200, according to the tax numbers.
Clarification: The Cannabist has changed the way it calculates 2014 monthly marijuana sales numbers because of new information obtained from the state of Colorado. Past projections will soon be updated via our new formula.
Recreational marijuana’s sales numbers had been increasing steadily since the adult-use market first opened on Jan. 1, 2014. September’s first-of-its-kind downturn shocked some industry insiders, especially since the previous month’s findings saw recreational sales boosted by more than 16.5 percent from July ($29,279,249) to August ($34,125,200).
The Marijuana Industry Group’s executive director Mike Elliott pointed toward Colorado’s mud season, a.k.a. the in-between months separating Colorado’s stunning summers and powdery winters, as the possible culprit.
“Since summer has come to a close, perhaps there wasn’t as much tourism in September,” Elliott hypothesized. “I imagine, though, that we are going to see a pretty big upswing in October, and some of that has to do with Aurora opening up licensed business. But it was just getting started in October, so the upswing might be more pronounced in November.”
A state-produced study released in July estimated that out-of-state tourists account for about 7 percent of Colorado’s annual 130.3-metric ton demand for marijuana. That number is especially interesting because the study also estimates that 50 percent of recreational purchases in Denver and 90 percent of retail buys in mountain resort towns are made by out-of-towners.
The sales of medical marijuana also dipped 2.9 percent in September to $32,401,312 from August’s numbers of $33,370,431, but those statistics aren’t as unusual; The medical cannabis market has seen random ups and downs since topping out (to date) at $36,040,335 in sales in February.
In the meantime, pot taxes are adding up: Since Jan. 1, Colorado has brought in more than $52.4 million in taxes, licenses and fees for recreational and medical marijuana.
Correction made Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.: Because of an editor’s error, an incorrect figure was reported for September medical marijuana sales. The $32,401,312 medical sales for September were a 2.9 percent decrease from August sales.