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Colorado’s Marijuana Sales Up 25%, Top $750 Million in First Half of 2017

The $750 million in sales at the 2017 midpoint covers both Colorado’s medical and adult use marijuana markets.

Colorado’s legal marijuana market has already topped $750 million in sales halfway through 2017. Sales are up 25.7 percent compared to the first half of 2016.

The recreational market accounted for $531 million of those sales, according to statistics published by the state’s Department of Revenue. The rest, nearly $220 million, came from medical marijuana.

Through June, the state has already generated nearly $116 million in tax revenue and licensing fees through the cumulative sales.

Colorado became the first U.S. state to legalize adult use marijuana sales in November 2012. State-regulated sales began in January 2014, and since then the cannabis market has grown exponentially. Dispensaries sold roughly $699.2 million worth of recreational and medical marijuana during the first year of operation, about $996.2 million in the program’s second year, and $1.3 billion in sales last year. This year, the state is on track to hit $1.5 billion in sales.

Throughout the life of Colorado’s operational adult use market, the state has pulled in more than $3.6 billion in medical and recreational sales and generated more than $500 million in total tax revenue. Cannabis sales now regularly top $100 million every month, with tax collected going to fund homelessness, schools, roads, hospitals, Medicaid, and even college scholarships.

While Colorado’s cannabis industry continues to grow, analysts have suggested that annual growth rates may gradually slow.

“What you’re seeing in Colorado is similar to other industries, we’re starting to see lower double-digit growth rates, rather than the triple-digit growth rates,” said Bethany Gomez, director of research for cannabis market research firm Brightfield Group.

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, however seven additional states have joined Colorado in passing their own laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Market analysts have suggested that legalization could expand to all 50 U.S. states in the next four years. Sen. Cory Booker has introduced legislation that would eliminate federal prohibition and encourage states to legalize the substance.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman this week sent a strong-worded letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been a vocal opponent of legalized marijuana. The two were responding to an earlier letter by Sessions’ that challenged the state’s oversight of its cannabis industry. The two vigorously defended their state’s legalized and regulated marijuana program, arguing that regulations protect the public’s safety and health and prevent an illegal market.

“The State of Colorado has worked diligently to implement the will of our citizens and build a comprehensive regulatory and enforcement system that prioritizes public safety and public health,” the Colorado letter reads. “When abuses and unintended consequences materialize, the state has acted quickly to address any resulting harms. While our system has proven to be effective, we are constantly evaluating and seeking to strengthen our approach to regulation and enforcement.”

National support for recreational marijuana legalization is now at a historic high, with 61 percent in favor.

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