Colorado Hits New Record with $423 Million in Annual Revenue From 2021

The state of Colorado is reporting a new record amount of revenue collected during 2021, including update sales data in overall tax and fee revenue collected since 2014 when legal sales began.

The Colorado Department of Revenue (DoR) announced on January 11 that the state has made a new record with total annual cannabis sales. “New record alert! In 2021, Colorado collected over $423 million in revenue from marijuana sales (compared to the previous record of over $387 million in 2020). Colorado also surpassed $2B in tax and fee revenue and $12B in marijuana sales to date,” the agency wrote on its social media pages.

A detailed press release shared that monthly data for December 2021 reached $30,609,563 in tax and fee revenue (with a total of $423,486,053 between January and December 2021) and $2,018,933,005 since February 2014.

Similar in cannabis sales, the latest data revealed $158,462,549 was collected in November (with a total of $2,060,952,959 collected between January and November 2021) and a massive total of $12,039,747,032 collected since legal sales began in January 2014.

These figures are based off of the state sales tax (2.9 percent), cannabis retail sales tax (15 percent) and retail cannabis excise tax (15 percent). The DoR notes that for cannabis sales data, the official sales figures won’t be released until sometime in February 2022.

Sales data from October, November and December were reported to have decreased, with both cannabis sales and prices dropping below the usual rate. The price of smokeable flower per pound in the last three months of 2021 dropped by 28 percent ($1,316 to $948, according to Westword) in reference to the average market rate (AMR). In comparison, the AMR for the end of 2020 reported $1,721 in price per pound.

The states of Washington and California, however, have collected $3 billion and $3.1 billion in tax revenue, compared to Colorado’s newly achieved $2 billion. Of course, Washington’s sales tax is up to 46 percent in certain regions, and California’s sales tax reaches up to 38 percent. Colorado’s tax percent is the third highest in the country.

According to Marijuana Policy Project Policy Director Karen O’Keefe, Colorado’s cannabis industry is more consistent, which leads to steady flow of funds for the state. “When you have that kind of funding, economists say you have what’s called a multiplier effect, where you not only have the initial investment in the stores, the jobs and the tax revenue, but then that money is in people’s pockets who spend it again,” O’Keefe told Westword. “So it’s as if each dollar is two or three dollars, which is the way economists usually look at it.” She also notes that this long-term investing has led to the creation of 40,000 jobs and over 1,000 Colorado businesses.

“Some of the more recently taxed states are focusing on specifically investing a good chunk of the revenue in communities that have borne the brunt of marijuana prohibition and that have had disproportionate marijuana arrests,” O’Keefe continued. “You’ll just continue to see more tax revenue, more people working in the cannabis industry, operating cannabis businesses.”

Colorado’s cannabis industry is thriving in many other ways overall as well. At the beginning of the year, Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order to pardon 1,351 cases relating to cannabis possession convictions of two ounces or less. Psychedelic decriminalization is also ramping up in Colorado, with two potential ballot measures being proposed through New Approach PAC. One bill proposes legalization of multiple different psychedelic substances such as ibogaine, DMT, mescaline, psilocybin and psilocin, whereas the other bill focuses just on psilocybin and psilocin.

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Illinois Cannabis Sales Doubled in 2021

The first year of legal cannabis sales in Illinois was a roaring success, but it turns out the second year was even better. 

Twice as good, in fact.

A report from the grimly named Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) showed that adult-use cannabis sales in the state totaled $1,379,088,278.61 in 2021––more than double the figure from the opening year of sales in 2020, which were roughly $669 million. 

The figures released by the IDFPR provide insight into the quantity of cannabis products sold, and when customers were buying them. 

The biggest month for pot sales in 2021 came at the very end of the year, with $137,896,859.11 generated in December. That was also the case in 2020, when the $86,857,898.27 worth of cannabis sales made December the highest-grossing month of that year. 

The IDFPR’s report also details the source of the money. Last year, $943,013,285.67 of the cannabis sales came from Illinois residents, while $436,176,093.93 came from out-of-state residents.

A total of 30,342,937 cannabis items were sold last year––up from 14,485,704 in 2020. 

Illinois’ recreational cannabis market opened for business on New Year’s Day 2020, a milestone that was met with long lines outside the states’ newly opened dispensaries. The first day of sales alone generated more than $3 million, and many of the shops ran out of weed during the opening week.

The figures continued to climb, giving the administration of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who signed the bill legalizing recreational cannabis in 2019, a reason to take a victory lap.

In June of 2020, Pritzker’s then-senior adviser for cannabis control Toi Hutchinson, who has since been hired as the Marijuana Policy Project’s president and CEO, said that the “successful launch of the Illinois legal cannabis industry represents new opportunities for entrepreneurs and the very communities that have historically been harmed by the failed war on drugs.” 

“The administration is dedicated to providing multiple points of entry into this new industry, from dispensary owners to transporters, to ensure legalization is equitable and accessible for all Illinoisans,” Hutchinson said. 

To that end, the economics have only been one facet of Illinois’ new marijuana law. As with other states that have legalized cannabis, there has also been a concerted effort by policymakers to redress previous convictions of marijuana offenders. 

When legalization took effect in Illinois, Pritzker heralded the occasion with more than 11,000 pardons for nonviolent cannabis offenders.

“We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said at the time. “We are restoring rights to tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core.”

Pritzker did the same to kick off 2021, issuing more than 9,000 pardons for low-level cannabis offenders and expunging more than 490,000 pot-related arrests.

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” Pritzker said in a statement released at the time. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to set a better path forward.”

While most other states have legalized cannabis through the ballot process, Illinois became the first to do so through the legislature in 2019, something Pritzker touted at the time of the bill signing.

“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy: a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” said Pritzker.

“Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do. This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon and individual court action. I’m so proud that our state is leading with equity and justice in its approach to cannabis legalization and its regulatory framework. Because of the work of the people here today and so many more all across our state, Illinois is moving forward with empathy and hope.”

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Don’t Wait for Black Friday—It’s Green Wednesday

Turkey. Stuffing. Cranberry sauce. And a nice platter of pre-rolls? 

It would appear that Thanksgiving will be quite green this year for many Americans celebrating the holiday, according to new survey data released Tuesday.

The study comes courtesy of Ayr Wellness, a self-described “expanding vertically integrated, U.S. multi-state cannabis operator focused on delivering the highest quality cannabis products and customer experience throughout its footprint.”

The findings suggest that more than a few people in the United States will sneak in a toke or two before pumpkin pie is served. Or, as a press release accompanying the survey put it: “Cannabis has finally earned a seat at the table in America.”

According to the data, “37 percent of cannabis consumers plan to serve THC-infused products with their Thanksgiving meal,” while “77 percent of cannabis consumers intend to consume cannabis with family or friends during the holidays.” And it suggests that “American cannabis consumers have become increasingly open about their cannabis habits, with 40 percent planning on consuming openly with family and friends this season.”

“One thing is clear: this Thanksgiving, cannabis is a family affair,” the press release said.

Just as a wave of cannabis legalization has swept over the country in the last 10 years, normalizing something that had long been taboo and scandalized, the findings of the Thanksgiving survey “suggest that cannabis is more mainstream than ever this year and a useful resource for managing family dynamics during the holidays.”

“Over the past decade, cannabis has become increasingly ingrained into the fabric of American culture and tradition, with cannabis sales on Green Wednesday reaching new heights every year,” Jonathan Sandelman, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Ayr Wellness, said in the release. “At Ayr Wellness, we’re passionate about enriching lives through this powerful plant by meeting consumers wherever they are in their cannabis journey, from novice to expert. From flower to beverages, and from extracts to edibles, our new portfolio of power brands offers something for everyone.”

The survey also suggests that “Green Wednesday,” the day on which potheads nationwide stock up on weed in advance of the long holiday weekend, is quickly joining the ranks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as Thanksgiving-adjacent, consumer-powered events on the calendar.

The press release described Green Wednesday as “the industry’s second-biggest sales day in 2020, aptly dubbed the ‘Black Friday’ of cannabis.” Citing data “from Akerna and Headset published in Green Market Report,” Ayr Wellness said that “Green Wednesday cannabis sales beat Black Friday sales for the first time” last year, “with upward trends expected to continue this year.”

According to the new survey, “One in two Green Wednesday shoppers (49 percent) will purchase cannabis as gifts for friends and family,” while “71 percent of Green Wednesday shoppers expect to spend $50 – $100 or more at the dispensary.”

The survey went on to say that “60 percent of cannabis consumers intend to visit a dispensary on Green Wednesday.”

And just what will those customers be buying to pair with football and the feast? Twenty-nine percent said they would buy good old flower; 19 percent are in the mood for edibles or beverages; 11 percent said they would snag some concentrates and extracts; 10 percent are opting for cartridges; nine percent want the pre-rolled joints; five percent dig topicals and four percent say the holiday calls out for infused flower. 

The findings “are part of a national study conducted by real-time consumer intelligence platform Suzy in partnership with Ayr Wellness,” according to the press release. “

“The nationally-representative study, conducted in November 2021, surveyed over 1,300 Americans on their cannabis consumption habits, beliefs and purchasing patterns tied to the holidays and Green Wednesday,” the release said.

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Massachusetts Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Eclipse $2 Billion

Less than three years after the first licensed recreational marijuana retailers began doing business in Massachusetts, regulated cannabis dispensaries have rung up more than $2 billion in adult-use cannabis sales, state officials announced on Wednesday. 

Shawn Collins, the executive director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), reported that as of Tuesday night, regulated marijuana establishments had logged $2,009,007,478 in gross sales since the businesses first opened their doors on November 20, 2018.

“This milestone speaks to the success of licensees that have interacted with the Commission from the application stage, maintained compliance with our strict regulations and contribute every day to communities across the Commonwealth,” Collins said in a statement from the agency. 

“This number also underscores the entire agency’s tireless efforts, particularly those of our hardworking staff, to thoughtfully regulate a safe, accessible, and effective adult-use marketplace that keeps critical tenets of our mission—public health, public safety and equity, among others—front of mind.”

The news comes less than one year after regulated, adult-use cannabis sales hit the $1 billion mark on November 3, 2020. During the first year of licensed sales (November 2018 through 2019), 33 marijuana retailers generated $393.7 million in gross sales. Sales for all of the 2019 calendar year amounted to $444.9 million, the agency reported. 

In 2020, 91 adult-use cannabis retailers tallied $702 million in gross sales, despite being closed for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recreational marijuana dispensaries were designated as non-essential businesses by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and ordered shuttered in March 2020 and then allowed to reopen the following May.

Massachusetts now has 165 licensed adult-use cannabis retailers and three recreational marijuana delivery services. As of Wednesday morning, regulators reported that $844 million in gross cannabis sales have already been made since January 1, putting 2021 on pace to be the year with the most licensed weed sales in Massachusetts ever.

Cannabis Control Commission Celebrates Fourth Anniversary

The Cannabis Control Commission also noted that Wednesday marked the four-year anniversary of the agency, which was launched after voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016. Massachusetts became the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana with the passage of a ballot measure in 2012.

The CCC also noted in its statement the progress the agency has made over the last four years of operation. Since the first licensed recreational marijuana retailers began doing business in 2018, the CCC has approved an additional 163 shops that have already opened or are in the process of doing so. 

Taken together, the agency has approved a total of 908 marijuana establishments, including cultivators, processors, transporters, retailers, and more. Notably, the number of independent cannabis testing laboratories has increased from three to five in 2021.

Also this year, the CCC finalized regulatory changes that allow for the home delivery of marijuana products under three different business models. The agency began accepting applications for marijuana couriers, which were previously known as delivery-only licenses, in 2020. 

Since then, two marijuana couriers have been authorized to commence operations, five have received final licenses, 10 have received provisional licenses and seven more are in the review and approval process. Additionally, one cannabis microbusiness has been awarded a delivery endorsement, allowing the company to deliver its own products directly to customers’ homes.

“As the Commission reflects on our four years of work, I hope the Commonwealth is proud of the agency we have built and the new industry that has been introduced and established,” said Collins.

Additional information on the state’s recreational and medical marijuana programs is available on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commision open data platform.

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How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the Cannabis Industry

AI is transforming the world—and the cannabis industry. Some view Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an existential risk that could wipe out humanity, others see it as an exciting new frontier to advance civilization. Regardless of one’s views, its prevalence today cannot be understated. Its application is so ubiquitous that even those critical of AI may […]

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Are you a Grey Market Gary or a Newbie Nancy? The four types of cannabis customers

During my time as a budtender in Vancouver, I experienced all different types of customers. Over time, I noticed that some of the conversations started to repeat themselves. This article will introduce you to some of the consumer stereotypes that I’ve encountered and how I recommend to my fellow cannabis consultants on how to serve […]

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Akerna Flash Report: Steep Decline in Nevada’s Cannabis Sales

DENVER, May 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Business intelligence from Akerna, a leading compliance technology provider and developer of the cannabis industry’s first seed-to-sale enterprise resource planning (ERP) software technology (MJ Platform®) shows recreational cannabis sales in Nevada have taken a steep decline reaching 56% when compared to the rest of the recreational market’s average […]

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COVID-19: Impending Quarantines leading to Cannabis Stockpiling

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, with the death toll and reported cases rising each day, quarantines and impeding restrictions have sent consumers rushing to stores to stock up and panic-buy everything from antiseptic wipes to toilet paper to meat, and now cannabis. While the viral videos of shoppers going rockem socket for Purex […]

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