What Colorado's Near Billion Dollar Cannabis Year Means For the Industry

Cannabis is big business in Colorado, to the tune of $996 million in sales in 2015. In August of last year, after steadily increasing month-over-month sales, the state surpassed $100 million in monthly sales for the first time. This sales total in Colorado was a 42% increase over 2014, and in the industry as a whole 2014 was a 74% increase over 2013. This, despite the constantly dropping price per ounce in Coloradoand Washington State. Where are all of these new sales coming from? Are they simply a recapturing of portions of the estimated $30 billion value of the illegal American cannabis marketplace, or is there more at play?

It seems unlikely that this constantly expanding consumer base is coming completely from black market buyers shifting to legal purchases. In fact, according to the Marijuana Business Daily Fact Book, states with medical or adult use dispensaries only 36% of cannabis consumers have moved completely from the black market to legal purchases. The report adds that 31% of consumers in these states have never purchased from the black market while the balance either purchase solely from the black market (17%) or purchase both legally and illegally (16%.) It stands to reason that as cannabis normalizes in states where it is legal customers unwilling to participate in the illegal market are coming to cannabis for the first time.