Colorado Retail Cannabis Market Sees 25% Growth in 2020 Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator from Pexels
February 16, 2021

The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) recently released its monthly Marijuana Sales Report for December, completing full year sales data for 2020. Sales in Colorado saw what has become a customary month-over-month increase in December. Even as holiday spending boosted demand, however, Colorado’s Spot Index persisted in a decline that began in November.

In December, combined retail sales of adult-use and medical cannabis totaled over $186.3 million, up by 6.4% compared to November’s combined revenues of over $175.1 million.

For 2020 overall, combined retail sales in Colorado’s adult-use and medical cannabis markets totaled over $2.19 billion, up 25.9% from over $1.74 billion in 2019. 2020’s sales growth is almost double that recorded in 2019, when revenues increased by over 13% year-over-year. Accelerated growth in 2019 and 2020 comes after annual sales increases progressively slowed from 2014 through 2018, when they rose by less than 3% in the final year of that period.

Adult-use retailers in Colorado tallied over $149.6 million in December. Revenues from the state’s adult-use sector in December were up by 6.5% compared to the just under $140.5 million in retail sales generated in November.

Retail revenues in the adult-use realm reached over $1.74 billion in 2020, up 24.3% from almost $1.41 billion in 2019. In 2019, annual revenue generated by recreational retailers grew by 16.2% compared to the year prior.

Medical cannabis revenues in December came to over $36.6 million, up by 5.8% from the over $34.6 million in sales tallied in November in that section of the market. Retail sales in Colorado’s medical market climbed to over $442.5 million in 2020, up 30.8% from over $338.4 million in 2019. 2020’s medical cannabis sales tally is the highest in the state since 2016, when registered patients purchased over $445.6 million worth of product.

In the wholesale realm, tax collection data for January 2021 – which corresponds generally to wholesale transfers and transactions executed in December 2020 – shows that the 15% excise tax on wholesale activity in Colorado’s adult-use system resulted in over $10.4 million accruing to state coffers. January’s wholesale excise tax receipts are up by 17.4% compared to tax collections from the previous month, which amounted to over $8.86 million.

Average Market Rates (AMRs) used by the state to assess the wholesale excise tax on internal transfers of flower, trim, and other plant material between commonly-owned adult-use licenses were unchanged from November to December. (Since August 2017, AMRs are adjusted quarterly by the Colorado Department of Revenue.) However, state officials announced AMRs for Q1 2021 that for the most part represented increases from the rates in effect in Q4 2020; significant ones in some cases, such as an over 30% rise in the AMR for flower. Consequently, vertically integrated adult-use businesses likely moved increased amounts of product to associated retailers and processors ahead of the start of 2021 in order to pay lower tax while they could.

Colorado’s Spot Index trended downward in December, continuing behavior that was observed to commence the month prior. For December as a whole, the state’s average composite wholesale price was down by 11.5% from November’s monthly mean.