Chart: Colorado on pace for record-setting, billion-dollar year of recreational cannabis sales

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Colorado’s adult-use marijuana market continues to surge nearly five years after the launch of recreational sales in the state.

Through August 2018 – the most recent data available from the Colorado Department of Revenue – recreational marijuana sales topped $800 million and the state is on pace to surpass $1.2 billion by the end of the year.

That would represent a 12% increase over total sales in 2017.

The sales data alone do not reveal what’s driving the increases, though there are signs that suggest expanded access to rec stores and shifting consumer preferences may be at play.

As of August 2017, 498 recreational stores were licensed throughout the state; that number grew to 541 by September 1, 2018 – a 9% increase.

Meanwhile, concentrates and edibles have been steadily growing in popularity with consumers. Both types of products retail for a higher price relative to traditional flower.

Other notes about recreational marijuana sales in Colorado include:

  • Though total rec sales continue to climb, the rate of growth is slowing – a natural and expected development that occurs in any booming market. For example, 2016 adult-use sales in Colorado came in about 50% higher than sales in 2015, while 2017 sales ended up 27% from 2016.
  • Seasonal sales trends are consistent and predictable, another sign that Colorado’s recreational cannabis market has reached a relative state of maturity. Sales will likely fall month-over-month from August until November, spiking back up again in December.
  • Monthly adult-use sales records have been broken three times so far in 2018. A record was set when sales topped $105 million in March, which was broken when sales hit $111 million in July and then again in August, when sales neared $113 million.

Eli McVey can be reached at