Holly Kinnel straightens out the display case at the The Clinic, one of the largest marijuana retailers in Denver. (John Leyba, Denver Post file)

Colorado marijuana sales holding steady with $109 million in January 2017

Colorado marijuana shops kicked off 2017 by selling nearly $109 million in recreational and medical cannabis in January, marking a 23 percent increase from January 2016, the latest revenue data show.

The Cannabist’s calculations of state tax revenue data that dropped Thursday afternoon show that recreational marijuana sales in January 2017 totaled $77.9 million — up $21.4 million year-over-year — while the month’s medical marijuana sales were $31.1 million, a 2.8 percent decrease from January 2016.

It’s the eight consecutive month that medical and adult-use sales have topped $100 million.

It’s also the fifth consecutive month that medical sales have seen a drop. Medical marijuana sales in the state have steadily declined since setting a yearly high of $41.4 million last August, Cannabist tabulations show.

As of Dec. 31, 2016, there were 94,577 active patients on Colorado’s medical marijuana registry, according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment data. That was down from 100,503 patients in November, 102,914 patients in October and 107,554 patients in December 2015.

“As recreational pricing falls to the same level as medical pricing — especially for the ‘1 ounce’ quantity — the benefit of using medical dispensaries is falling to zero,” Miles Light, an economist, wrote via e-mail to The Cannabist. Light is also the co-founder of the Denver-based Marijuana Policy Group, an economic, financial and policy research and consulting firm focused on the marijuana industry.

The monthly sales equate to $17.7 million in revenue to the state from taxes and licensing fees, according to the Department of Revenue report.

Colorado’s young marijuana industry reeled in $1.3 billion in sales in 2016, a year that included a spate of record-setting summer monthly totals.

Economists have said it’s likely that the industry could outdo itself again this year, but extending those sales gains beyond 2017 would be challenging.

By 2018, the medical or recreational marijuana programs could be up-and-running in some or all of the eight states that voted in November to legalize.

“In general, the Colorado market is saturated, and soon (2018) — I predict that total sales (recreational and medical) in Colorado will decline by at least 20-30 percent — as new states legalize marijuana,” Light wrote. “Sales in Colorado are 30-40 percent higher than local resident demand, based upon MPG estimates. Those tourists will begin buying in other legal states, in 2018.”

Sales stats for Colorado weed
A month-by-month look comparing sales of recreational and medical marijuana

2017 Recreational total (1 month)
2017 Medical total (1 month)
2017: $108,994,794
2016 Recreational total (12 months)
2016 Medical total (12 months)
2016: $1,313,156,545