Report: Denver’s marijuana industry continues to thrive, but it now makes up a smaller share of sales statewide

Marijuana at Verde Natural's grow facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Marijuana at Verde Natural's grow facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Allan Tellis. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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The city of Denver’s annual marijuana report has been released, and it’s showing some interesting trends in the city’s marijuana industry.

The report definitely makes on thing clear: the marijuana industry is still thriving in Denver and throughout Colorado, and that money is being allocated for a variety of the city’s needs.

One noticeable trend is that retail marijuana sales are still on the rise while medical marijuana sales have seen a small decline over the last year. From January 2017 until January 2018, retail sales saw a substantial increase of 29 percent while medical sales dropped 3 percent.

That jump in retail sales brought a slight increase in the revenue the city generates from the marijuana sales tax. Over the last year, the share of the money from marijuana available in the general fund grew from 3.02 percent to 3.4 percent.

A chart depicting how much revenue in Denver from marijuana over the last several years. (Courtesy of the city of Denver)

A chart depicting how much revenue in Denver from marijuana over the last several years. (Courtesy of the city of Denver)

This year alone $12.4 million was appropriated by the city to get to work on deferred maintenance, adding affordable housing and opioid intervention causes in Denver. An $11 million portion was allocated to help fund a youth prevention campaign called “High Costs,” meant to educate Denver’s kids about the downsides of underage consumption. Marijuana money was also used to support the city in funding some of its administrative tasks. $8.8 million was spent across the city’s departments and agencies for regulation, enforcement and education.

Denver’s domination of marijuana sales has lessened between 2014 and 2017. The city saw a 20 percent decline in its overall share of the state’s total marijuana sales, meaning other cities have  upped their cannabis availability over the last couple years.

In 2017, cannabis crimes accounted for .3 percent of Colorado’s overall crime rate. Crime in the marijuana industry came in at an even lower rate than that, and accounted for less than half a percent of the city’s overall crime.

“This new report demonstrates Denver’s coordinated approach between multiple agencies to manage marijuana is working,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a press release. “We took on the daunting challenge of becoming the first major city in America to manage legalized recreational marijuana, and we are having success. That’s because of coordination between Denver’s Excise and Licenses, Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Public Health and Environment, Community Planning and Development, as well as our partners in other city agencies, the community from the marijuana industry and public health advocates.”