September 3, 2019

The Trend of Increasing Colorado Retail Cannabis Sales in the Summer Months Exceeds Previous Years’ Performance

The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) recently released its monthly Marijuana Sales Report for June 2019. Overall retail demand increased once again, with cumulative sales by adult-use storefronts and medical dispensaries reaching a new record high for the state’s market, in addition to adult-use revenues doing so on their own. Meanwhile, wholesale excise tax collections suggest contracting trading and transfer volume in June, perhaps reflecting tighter supply in the face of persistently strong sales. The current upward trend displayed by Colorado’s Spot Index commenced in June.

In June, combined retail sales of adult-use and medical cannabis totaled over $152 million, up by 6.2% compared to May’s combined revenues of over $143.1 million. June’s total monthly sales represent a new record high for Colorado’s market for the second consecutive month, as well as the third time such a milestone has been established in the first six months of 2019.

An uptick in cumulative monthly sales from May to June has become customary in Colorado. However, the magnitude by which total retail revenues increased this year is greater than in prior ones. In 2016, cumulative monthly sales rose by 4.5% from May to June. 2017 saw a 4.4% increase in the same span, while the proportional rise in the period under discussion in 2018 was 5.4%.

Year-to-date retail revenues as of June totaled over $817.7 million, up by 10.1% from the over $742.3 million documented in the first six months of 2018. Total sales through the first five months of this year were up by less than 9% compared to the same period in 2018, indicating that the pace of year-over-year sales growth in Colorado in 2019 accelerated in June, as it did in each of the two months prior.

Adult-use retailers in Colorado tallied over $122.3 million in June. Revenues from the state’s adult-use sector in June were up by 7.7% compared to the over $113.6 million in retail sales generated in May. June’s adult-use sales represent a new record high for that sector of Colorado’s market, topping the previous peak of over $114.3 million documented in March of this year. As of June 2019, year-to-date sales in the adult-use sector reached over $652.8 million, up by 13.2% compared to over $576.9 million in retail revenue generated by recreational storefronts through the first six months of 2018.

Medical cannabis revenues in June came to over $29.6 million, up by 0.7% from the over $29.4 million in sales tallied in May in that section of the market. From January through June of this year, Colorado’s retail sales in the medical portion of the market totaled over $164.9 million, down by 0.4% from over $165.4 million in medical cannabis sales through the first six months of 2018.

In the wholesale realm, tax collection data for July 2019 – which corresponds generally to wholesale transfers and transactions executed in June – shows that the 15% excise tax on wholesale activity in Colorado’s adult-use system resulted in over $5.64 million accruing to state coffers. July’s wholesale excise tax receipts are down by 6% compared to tax collections from the previous month, which amounted to just over $6 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 licenses were constant from May to June (Since August 2017, AMRs are adjusted quarterly by the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR).) As a result, it appears that overall wholesale trading and transfer volume in Colorado’s market in June contracted compared to the month before, despite strong sales in the adult-use market in both May and June.