Colorado Retail Marijuana Sales in 2020 Top $1.6 Billion Through September Photo by Alex Person on Unsplash
November 24, 2020

The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) recently released its monthly Marijuana Sales Report for September. Sales in Colorado decreased for the second consecutive month in September, but the total tally still exceeded $200 million for the third straight month. Tax data indicates that wholesale trading and transfer activity in the adult-use sector also subsided in September. However, Colorado’s Spot Index persisted in the climb that commenced in June.

In September, combined retail sales of adult-use and medical cannabis totaled over $206.4 million, down by 5.6% compared to August’s combined revenues of over $218.6 million. Historical trends show that monthly sales typically decline in September after peaking for the year in August. However, September 2020 is the second straight month that Colorado’s total retail sales saw a downturn after reaching a historic high point in July.

September 2020’s cumulative sales total represents an increase of 32.8% year-over-year. This annual growth rate is up from over 26% the month prior. Through the first nine months of 2020, Colorado medical and adult-use retailers have racked up combined sales totaling over $1.62 billion, up by 24.2% compared to over $1.31 billion in total year-to-date sales through the same period last year. For context, in 2019 as a whole, total sales in Colorado grew by over 13% year-over-year.

Adult-use retailers in Colorado tallied over $166.5 million in September. Revenues from the state’s adult-use sector in September were down by 5.7% compared to the over $176.5 million in retail sales generated in August. September 2020’s adult-use sales are up 31.3% from those documented for the same month in 2019. Year-to-date sales in the adult-use portion of the market have reached over $1.29 billion nine months into 2020, outpacing by 22.9% the over $1.05 billion in recreational revenue through the first nine months of 2019. In 2019, annual revenue generated by recreational retailers grew by 16.2% compared to the year prior.

Medical cannabis revenues in September came to over $39.9 million, down by 5% from the over $42 million in sales tallied in August in that section of the market. Retail sales in Colorado’s medical market in September 2020 are up by 39.6% year-over-year, relative to over $28.6 million in September 2019.

In the wholesale realm, tax collection data for October 2020 – which corresponds generally to wholesale transfers and transactions executed in September – shows that the 15% excise tax on wholesale activity in Colorado’s adult-use system resulted in over $8.82 million accruing to state coffers. October’s wholesale excise tax receipts are down by 8.9% compared to tax collections from the previous month, which amounted to over $9.68 million. October is the second straight time that receipts from this levy have declined after rising from March through August this year.

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 stable from August to September. (Since August 2017, AMRs are adjusted quarterly by the Colorado Department of Revenue.) Consequently, decreased tax collections indicates that wholesale trading and transfers by adult-use growers contracted in September.