Have Marijuana Sales In Colorado Reached A Plateau?

<p>(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)</p>
<p>A marijuana grow in Denver.</p>

Marijuana sales in Colorado appear to be reaching a plateau, with the industry growing at its lowest rate since recreational stores opened four years ago.

In January, customers bought $88,729,914 worth of recreational cannabis, up 17 percent over the same month last year. Sales growth used to be two and three times that. The slowing growth points to a maturing marijuana market in Colorado.

Some expected sales to fall more after Denver Police raided the Sweet Leaf marijuana chain for looping, where they allegedly allowed the same customer to buy the maximum one ounce of marijuana from the same store a dozen or more times in a day, to sell on the black market. Some store owners say looping was never widespread in the industry, and the fact that sales seem unaffected by the high profile raids is evidence of that.

Of course, that’s not to say looping is not happening. The people who are collecting marijuana from stores to sell in other states may just be covering their tracks better by using different stores, rather than going to the same one multiple times.

The medical side of the market continues to shrink rapidly. The slide in sales began in mid-2016, and purchases have grown in only one month since then. Store owners say getting a medical card is a hurdle many customers are forgoing.

Still, the number of registered patients has remained steady. It grew by 14,945 people over the year. There are now 93,314 registered patients.