Colorado Is So High Right Now


Residents are smoking a lot of pot:

Six months into marijuana legalization, the Colorado Department of Revenue has issued a new report outlining findings about the size of the newly legal market. It turns out that the demand for marijuana far exceeds earlier estimates; according to the report, statewide demand is at a whopping 121.4 tons per year. That’s 31 percent higher than a previous Department of Revenue estimate and 89 percent higher than an oft-cited study by the Colorado Futures Center. And while the vast majority of the increase is the result of resident smokers consuming more than expected, the growth of the retail market — particularly among tourists — is a promising sign for the success of legalization.

Colorado makes substantially more money from taxes on recreational marijuana than medical marijuana. So the success of recreational legalization can be measured by the state’s ability to make loads of money from pot taxes. For advocates, Colorado (so far) appears to be a first victory and may become proof of concept. If Colorado is able to rake in a substantial amount of tax revenue, legalization advocates’ pitches to legislatures in Oregon, Massachusetts and Alaska become that much easier.

Niraj Chokshi looks at who is toking up exactly:

Adult residents either smoke pot (relatively) few times a month or nearly every day—there are few in the middle. More than half of all adult resident users consume the drug in some form fewer than six times a month. (More than 1 in 4 consume less than once a month.) At the same time, about 1 in 5 users are near or at daily consumption. While those roughly daily users account for just a fifth of the user population, they consume fully two thirds of the product.

Jon Walker highlights other details:

A particularly interesting finding is where most of the new retail consumers are coming from. Because of the low tax rate on medical marijuana and greater number of medical marijuana stores, most existing patients are not switching their buying outlets for now.

The report finds, “Using the latest retail marijuana tax statistics from the Department of Revenue, we also found that conversions from medical to retail consumption is relatively low. Instead, retail supply of marijuana is growing, while medical marijuana is relatively constant. This may indicate that medical consumers would rather pay the medical registration fees as opposed to the higher tax rates, or that there are currently relatively few retail outlets compared to medical centers. Therefore, the retail demand is derived primarily from out-of-state visitors and from consumers who previously purchased from the Colorado black and gray markets.”

For example, in Denver it is estimated that 44 percent of recreational marijuana sales are to visitors and the rate is even higher in some ski towns. Clearly, many people are coming the Colorado to enjoy the new freedom.