Marijuana sales in Colorado have decreased for the first time since the state legalized the drug in January, according to tax data released this week.
Sales for both recreational and medical use of cannabis have fallen.
In September Colorado brought in a total of $7.2 million in taxes and fees from recreational and medical marijuana sales, down from $7.7 million that the state brought in the previous month.
The Colorado Department of Revenue said retailers sold $31,626,965 in recreational marijuana in September, down 7.3 percent from August’s retail sales of $34,125,200.
Sales of medical marijuana also dropped, by 2.9 percent in September down to $31,626,965, from $33,370,431 in August
The drop comes to many as a surprise, given that sales had been growing steadily since Colorado became the first state to legalize selling cannabis to people over the age of 21.
Industry experts say that this sudden bump and slowdown is not going to last long though. Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said that the drop in sales occurred because of a decrease in tourism in the state (which usually occurs between the summer and winter months in Colorado). Tourists are often the biggest consumers of marijuana in the state.
The Colorado Department of Revenue conducted a study that found that people traveling to Colorado from out-of-state account for 44% of marijuana sales in large urban areas, and account for almost 90% of sales in the state’s touristy mountain destinations.
Dispensary owners have said that they are not optimistic that October sales will pick up, however, as soon as the ski resorts open, then sales will begin to increase again. Some estimate that total marijuana sales could be worth $700 million this year, with recreational marijuana sales accounting for between $300 million and $400 million.
Colorado’s third largest city, Aurora, has just seen its first recreational dispensary open in October, and more are expected to come.
Since Jan. 1, Colorado has generated over $52.4 million in taxes, licenses and fees for recreational and medical marijuana.
Update 1 (19:57 CST):
It should be noted that this year Washington state has also legalized selling recreational marijuana. Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Alaska have also recently had measures go through that will soon legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in those states as well.
Once dispensaries and marijuana shops open in these states then it’s almost certain that recreational marijuana sales in the US will increase as a whole.