While many people were eschewing a “terrible” 2016 and ringing in the new year with renewed hope, Colorado was counting it’s 2016 cannabis tax revenue with glee. On Thursday, the Colorado Department of Revenue released the much-anticipated tax data for 2016, showing that nearly $200 million in marijuana tax revenue. Of the $1.3 billion in legal cannabis sales in Colorado, $875 million came from the recreational market and $438 from the medical market. In comparison, the state sold $996 million in 2015 (with tax revenue reaching $135 million) and $699 million the year prior.
The news isn’t a complete surprise as journalists, policy-makers and cannabis advocates have been talking a lot about the mid-year sales numbers since before the month of May even closed out. What observers saw were cannabis sales exceeded $100 million per month for two-thirds of the year, topped off by a whopping $114.7 million month in December.
Director of communications for Denver’s Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert, says “This money is just the tip of the iceberg. The state is also reaping the invaluable public health and safety benefits of replacing an underground market with a tightly regulated system. Marijuana is now being sold in licensed businesses, rather than out on the street. It is being properly tested, packaged, and labeled, and it is only being sold to adults who show proof of age. The system is working.”
The only part of the system that remains to be a concern is the recent price drop in the wholesale cannabis market. That, and the fact that fewer people are visiting the state for reasons of pot tourism. But, Colorado does not seem fazed by these side developments as the green rush of the Rocky Mountain State only grows greener every year.