March usually brings a big seasonal bump in recreational marijuana sales to Colorado.
This year was no different. The Department of Revenue reports that recreational sales of cannabis rose 23 percent from February to March, making this March 2018 the biggest month (of any month) on record in Colorado for recreational sales.
Customers scooped up $106 million worth of cannabis, topping the previous high mark of $102 million set in August 2017.
There’s now enough yearly data to see clear seasonal trends. The summer months are usually the peak of sales, then things slow down when the weather gets cooler. Though there is a clear holiday bump in sales in December.
Marijuana store owners have attributed the March increase to tourism, which does line up with hotel data. As the weather warms, Denver area hotels see a significant increase in traffic. Occupancy was up 12 percent from February to March of this year, according to the STR, a hotel research firm.
There also appears to be a transfer effect, where customers are leaving the medical market and entering the recreational one.
March medical cannabis sales were down 22 percent over the year, as the average number of patients on the medical registry has steadily fallen since peaking in 2014. More than 26,000 patients have left the registry since recreational stores opened in Colorado.
That’s good news for government since taxes paid on a recreational purchase are much higher. Marijuana firms paid $87 million in taxes and fees so far in 2018. That’s $10.3 million more than same time in 2017.