After A Slowdown, Marijuana Sales In Colorado Are Booming Again (But A Vape Cloud May Be On The Horizon)

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Andrew Heaton runs the medical marijuana dispensary WTJ MMJ Supply in Colorado Springs. He said he believes legal recreational marijuana in the city could actually deter active duty soldiers from using pot.

Not long ago there was talk of Colorado reaching peak marijuana. Sales were starting to slow, and many believed the market was maturing.

Apparently not.

Since May, cannabis sales have set new records each month. The latest numbers, which cover August, are the biggest yet. Customers bought $173 million worth of recreational and medical cannabis, a 23 percent increase over August of last year, according to new data from Colorado’s Department of Revenue. That’s the biggest percentage jump in two and a half years in Colorado.

A quick survey of a handful of cannabis dispensaries didn’t turn up much in the way of an explanation. One shop said they were seeing more middle-aged and senior buyers as marijuana becomes more socially acceptable.

“It’s a friendly and good time” to be in the marijuana business, said Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. 

Presidential candidates are talking about marijuana legalization, there’s strong state support starting with Gov. Jared Polis and consumer confidence in the product is rising. All in all, cannabis has become much more mainstream.

The effect seems to touch nearly every corner of the state. Every large and small county, except Weld County, saw big increases in sales. Adams and Arapahoe County were up 39 percent and 33 percent, respectively, compared to August of last year.

Denver, the largest cannabis market, saw a $7.7 million increase in sales, up 22 percent year-over-year.

But there may be clouds on the horizon. In September, news broke of vaping-linked lung illnesses, many of which seem to be linked to vaping cannabis oils. One cannabis business owner said his vape cartridge sales were down 35 percent from August to September. 

Still, others say customers are unlikely to drop cannabis altogether, but just switch to other methods of consumption until more is known about what’s causing the outbreak. 

September sales numbers won’t be out for another month.