Colorado reaches milestone of more than $10 billion in cannabis sales

Published Mar 15, 2021 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / BruceStanfield

Recreational cannabis sales in Colorado began in 2014, and according to new numbers from the state, since then, companies there have made more than $10 million in cannabis sales, including derived products. This landmark state was the first to experiment with a legal green market, and as such, it provides some unique insight into what the future might bring for other countries and states as rules and regulations surrounding cannabis evolve.

Technically this milestone was reached by the end of 2020, and perhaps even sooner, as the numbers provided by the state are delayed and counted at the end of each quarter, but Coloradans and advocates worldwide are celebrating right now because of what this victory means for both consumers as well as the global cannabis industry.

A rational approach

Colorado is one of the few places that maintains no limits on legal cannabis potency. Still, it enforces stricter rules in other areas that are designed to protect public health, and they seem to be working.

  • No one under the age of 21 can buy cannabis.
  • Children may not enter an establishment that sells cannabis.
  • Adults 21 and over may possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis
  • Legal-aged adults may grow their own cannabis.
  • Licensed retailers are the only ones with permission to sell legal cannabis products.
  • All public consumption is illegal.
  • Private property owners may ban the possession or use of cannabis.
  • Some workplaces may utilize drug testing to ensure that employees in positions of responsibility are not at risk.
  • Flammable solvents may not be used in the making of legal cannabis products.
  • Dispensaries may only serve the public between 8 am and midnight.
  • Cannabis packaging must be sealable, child-resistant, and cannot be transparent.
  • Marijuana symbols must be placed in a visible area of all cannabis packaging.

Though advocates say that some of Colorado’s cannabis rules could use a few adjustments, one thing is clear, and it’s that this system is working for the state, related businesses, and consumers.

Public safety a top priority

Many who are against legalization swore that Colorado’s experiment would turn out terribly, and the assumptions were rather dire. Some said that increasing access would lead to an increase in risk for both adults and children, and in truth, it was a possibility, but the results from this region prove that with the right care and rules, everyone can get what they want within reason.

  • There has been no increase in youth marijuana use rates.
  • There has been a slight decrease in impaired driving rates.
  • There have been very few accidents involving either adults or children who have a bad experience with cannabis.
  • A 2.9% sales tax puts millions of dollars directly into the hands of governments, many of whom chose to spend it on programs that can further reduce the risk of an active cannabis industry.

A roadmap for the world

Coloradans are celebrating a massive victory after the announcement of the cannabis sales milestone, and they should be. Here a risk was taken, and it worked out well enough that those countries and states which are still considering legalization now have some simple blueprints and information to pull from as they design and build whole new sections of the cannabis industry in the future.

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