The streak continues for the Colorado cannabis industry.
Colorado marijuana shops in September reeled in $127.8 million in sales of medical and recreational cannabis, notching a new revenue record for the third consecutive month, according to newly released data from the Colorado Department of Revenue.
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So far this year, sales have topped $974.3 million in nine months, about $22 million shy of the $996.2 million revenue totaled for the entirety of 2015. This time last year, September monthly sales were $94.7 million — $38.3 million from medical marijuana and $56.44 million from recreational marijuana — and year-to-date sales were nearly $733.8 million.
The sales jump this time around can be attributable to soaring recreational marijuana sales. In September, medical marijuana sales were $39.6 million while the portion of sales coming from recreational purchases was $88.2 million — the highest-ever monthly total for adult-use sales.
The September 2016 sales generated about $19.2 million in tax revenue for the state, bringing the year-to-date total for taxes and licensing fees to $144.2 million.
The spike likely is spurred by seasonal purchases, Adam Orens, a BBC Research and Marijuana Policy Group economist, said in September. More residents and tourists are “out and about” for the summer and participating in a variety of recreational activities, he said at the time.
Also new for 2016 was the implementation of a new law that increased the daily purchase limit for non-residents to one ounce, up from a quarter-ounce. That law took effect in June.
September sales likely benefited from an extended buying period from the summer and tourist traffic, but they also show that there’s ongoing enthusiasm for the industry, said Tom Jones, director of analytics BDS Analytics, cannabis data firm based in Boulder.
BDS, which tracks sales data at Colorado pot shops, found that concentrates have been a huge player in the growth story, serving as the fastest-growing category in the industry.
“It’s still a fledgling, growing industry, and we’re going to continue to see solid growth for some time,” he said.
Noting the year-over-year revenue growth rate — which is averaging roughly 33 percent — Colorado’s marijuana industry is on pace to hit $1.3 billion in sales for 2016, Jones said.
As with any new industry or new product launch, the growth rates will start high and slowly decline, he said.
“It’s going to remain positive for a long time in terms of year-over-year growth,” he said. “We don’t anticipate contraction anytime in the near- to mid-term. Obviously, that is not withstanding what might happen on a federal level, or with regulation, or so on.”
As for California, which legalized recreational marijuana last week, Colorado shouldn’t be heavily affected after the implementation of those regulations in the next year or so, he said.
“We do have a very important tourist component to our business in Colorado,” he said. “A little bit of that might get sucked over to California, Nevada will have legal use … but Colorado has an incredibly resilient tourist economy. It’s going to remain very appealing for people to travel to Colorado.”
This story is developing and will be updated.