COLORADO SPRINGS — Marijuana sales in the state are taking a nosedive after hitting record numbers at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Colorado Department of Revenue reports $145.3 million in total sales for recreational and medical marijuana in February of this year compared to $167 million in February of 2021 — a 13 percent drop.
Medical sales dipped to their lowest on record during the same time frame. The state recorded $20.3 million compared to a $32.5 — 37 percent drop.
"Declining medical marijuana sales are due to potency limits, and HB-1317 which has all but crippled the medical marijuana industry here in Colorado Springs. It limits the amount a person can purchase whenever they come into the dispensary so they don't get the necessary medication that the doctors have prescribed," said Bryon Tuck, Store manager, Operator of Dabarado.
Dabarado is a medical concentrate cannabis dispensary in Colorado Springs. Tuck noticed declining sales a couple of months ago and says post-covid inflation has also played a role.
"My long-term customers are only able to come in once or twice a week whereas they were coming in five to six times before," said Tuck. "Right now, the industry is struggling to keep up, the industry is struggling with overhead costs. The cost to produce has greater greater, post-COVID inflation not only affects the patients, but medical marijuana dispensaries."
"The primary reason that medical marijuana is declining is something the state foresaw many years ago. The more that you have states legalizing, the more the pie is being sliced in more pieces. You have more states offering medical marijuana so the potential buyers or businesses that came to Colorado many years ago when we legalized now don't have to move. They don't have to invest in another state," said Tatiana Bailey, Director of the UCCS Forum.
Bailey says new regulations on medical marijuana may not be much of a contribution to the decline.
"If you restrict the amount people can buy, yeah there is are going to be individuals that maybe restricts the total amount they end up buying within a given time frame, but really and truly if someone wants more product, they might ask their brother, sister or whomever to purchase for them. I don't see that as a hindrance quite as much as the simply supply issue of legalization across more states," said Bailey.
She doesn't expect the decline to have a big impact on the state economy.
"Hickenlooper was our governor at the time it was legalized. Interestingly, he said if I had to do it over again, I'm not sure I would. A lot of the reason why he said that is because it just isn't as much money as they thought it would be after you incorporate some of the costs associated with it," said Bailey.
As long as states continue to legalize the drug, Bailey expects sales the trend to continue.
"Moving forward we need recreational and medical marijuana sales here. It's going to bolster the economy," said Tuck.