For the first time ever, Colorado’s recreational marijuana sales topped the state’s healthy medical cannabis numbers in July.
The numbers, released Tuesday from the state’s Department of Revenue, are big news for the U.S.’s oldest legal marijuana market. But what do they mean?
Are medical pot sales starting to top off? Are these numbers a sign of a thriving in-state recreational marketplace — or are out-of-state visitors drastically impacting these numbers? Is this a sign that Colorado’s groundbreaking regulated marijuana system is working? And how do Colorado-rooted politicians, business owners and activists feel about the crossover milestone?
We asked a few of these Colorado leaders — from marijuana attorney Joshua Kappel to Colorado congressman Jared Polis, businesswomen Amy Dannemiller (a.k.a. Jane West) to industry representative Taylor West — and here’s what they had to say.
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Joshua Kappel, partner at marijuana law firm Vicente Sederberg LLC
“Recreational marijuana users have always been more prevalent than medical marijuana users in Colorado. This evidence just shows that the black market is giving way to the taxed and regulated market — which is a great thing for our state’s economy.”
Amy Dannemiller, owner of Edible Events who hosts marijuana-friendly parties under the name Jane West
“With growing numbers of Colorado consumers using cannabis recreationally it is inevitable that social use in public settings is the next domino to fall — and I look forward to that day. I can’t wait to hold my first Edible Event at Union Station. It’s going to be called Choo-Choo Choose Cannabis.”
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the authors of Colorado’s Amendment 64
“Most adults use marijuana for the same reasons they use alcohol. Now that it’s a legal product, they are choosing to access it in a similar fashion. If they want to use it while socializing with friends or to relax after work, they stop at the store and purchase it much like they would a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine. There are many seriously ill people who rely on and will continue to utilize the state’s medical marijuana system. But for most Coloradans, buying marijuana in a retail store will just become the norm. It appears that shift in behavior is already taking place. Now that marijuana is a legal alternative to alcohol, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of them making the safer choice to hit a vaporizer instead of the bottle.”
Jared Polis, U.S. Representative in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District
“(The crossover) doesn’t surprise me. The recreational market is a broader market. Many of the regular users have their medical cards and prefer to stay on the medical side because it’s less expensive. But I would fully expect that the recreational market is larger than the medical market because it always has been.”
Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association
“This is a clear sign that we’re headed in the right direction. Patients are getting the medicine they need, and adult-use customers are being brought into the regulated market. We’re less than a year in, and the market is still evolving, but the market is working.”
Bob Eschino, co-owner of edibles company Incredibles
“We have still been seeing steady growth on the medical side as well — I’m hearing the lion’s share of the recreational market is out-of-state buyers. I would still predict a growing medical market for Colorado residents as long as recreational prices are higher. Residents will continue to move to medical to save money. That being said, it is a milestone — still well below predicted numbers though. The original predictions were a recreational market six times higher than its medical counterpart.”
Dan Anglin, chairman of the board at the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce
“The fact that it took seven months for the recreational market to overtake medical sales illustrates the strength of the medical marketplace for Colorado residents who have medical need of cannabis. Simultaneously, this also shows that recreational sales needed a little time to establish a foothold over the black market, and any decision to revisit the excise tax on recreational sales is premature, because the market needs more time to grow stronger.”