Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke of “greater enforcement” when it comes to the marijuana industry. His remarks certainly caused plenty of hand-wringing by cannabis cultivators and consumers nationwide. But even in a time of federal uncertainty, legal marijuana sales numbers continue growing.
The next great American industry
Quoted in an April 2017 Yahoo! Finance article, Arcview Group — a cannabis industry funding matchmaker — CEO Troy Dayton proclaimed that “cannabis is the next great American industry.” He also said that federal meddling “may impact valuations of some companies, and it may affect who invests in those companies, but states will continue to give out licenses, and there will be a line of people outside those facilities looking to purchase” marijuana products.
Big receipts in the Centennial State
Giving credence to Dayton’s claims, legal marijuana sales show few signs of slowing any time soon. Take, for example, Colorado, wherein March the state posted its tenth consecutive month of legal marijuana sales surpassing the $100 million mark.
March's haul? $131.7 million. That's 48 percent more than March 2016. For the state, that means March 2017 alone padded the coffers with $22.9 million.
The previous month, February, were incredible as well. February receipts topped $126 million in the Centennial State. $86.4 million was recreational revenue, and the rest ($39.6 million) was for medical product. For perspective, February 2017 receipts were nearly 36 percent greater than February 2016, and the state collected about $17.5 million in taxes and fees for the one month alone.
New records elsewhere
But it’s not just a Colorado phenomenon. The Alaska Department of Revenue recently unveiled a March 2017 report showing the state has hit new highs of legal marijuana sales and production. Though not on par with Colorado retail numbers, Alaskans bought 225 pounds of flower and another 169 pounds of other parts of the cannabis plant. In all, those purchases contributed nearly a quarter million tax dollars to the state budget.
And Oregon numbers for all of Q1 2017 show purchases hitting $101 million. That's 24% more than Q1 2016.
Lower wholesale costs, more consumption
Back in Colorado, one of the most interesting nuances of their record-breaking sales numbers is the fact that they have been made against the backdrop of sinking wholesale marijuana prices. According to Cannabis Benchmarks, January 2017 wholesale prices in Colorado were 33 percent less than a year earlier.
So how does Colorado keep its sales numbers high? Eli McVey of Marijuana Business Daily attributes it to two market forces: increased spending by existing users and new consumers making purchases.
There could be other factors at play as well, but whatever they might be the end result is what appears to be a continued boom in legal marijuana sales.