Medical marijuana sales in Colorado soared 50% during the state’s latest fiscal year, surpassing even the most optimistic projections.
Dispensaries reported record revenue of $329 million from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013, according to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. That’s a healthy increase from $219.3 million in the previous 12-month period. (Note: The numbers include all products sold at dispensaries, including edibles.)
Sales in Denver alone hit $152 million, accounting for about 46% of the statewide total.
The revenue spike bodes well for the state’s fledgling recreational marijuana market. With the medical side growing at a rapid clip, it’s reasonable to assume recreational sales will take off quickly when they begin on Jan. 1, as overall demand seems strong.
The numbers also reflect the strength of the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries after a period of consolidation.
Based on the sales figures, Colorado’s 520 dispensaries generated about $633,000 in revenue each – nearly double the average a year earlier. That led to an improved bottom line for most dispensaries.
The state benefited as well, collecting more than $9 million in taxes during the period vs. $6 million the previous year.
While industry professionals expected an uptick in business, few predicted sales would reach this level.
In August, Marijuana Business Daily reported that sales were on track to hit $300 million, based on data through the first three quarters of the fiscal year. However, revenue picked up significantly in the fourth quarter, hitting $94 million. The average for the prior three quarters was $75 million.
The overall yearly increase is tied to an uptick in patient numbers (the registry grew by 7,000), an improving economy, growing acceptance of cannabis and a rise in prices. The fact that the industry is pumping out reliable products also helped fuel sales, as more patients opted for regulated cannabis over the black market.
It’s unclear how medical marijuana sales will be affected by the new recreational market. But there’s a chance MMJ sales could stay strong, given that medical cannabis will be significantly cheaper than recreational marijuana due to higher taxes on the latter.
Nearly 113,000 patients held medical marijuana cards in Colorado as of late September.