The first ten months of 2016 marked a historic moment for the legalized cannabis industry as Colorado Cannabis shops reached a milestone of a $1 billion in regulated, legal cannabis sales.
New October data from the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that recreational and medical cannabis shops in Colorado have sold over $1.1 billion worth of marijuana products so far this year.
This total eclipses last year’s sales figures which fell just shy of the billion dollar mark at $996 million.
The state of Colorado was the first American state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012 with the passing of the Colorado Amendment 64.
The state had previously decriminalized the drug in 1975 and allowed medical use of cannabis upon prescription in the year 2000.
Marijuana retailers in the state reported record sales in the month of September 2016 when marijuana sales hit an all-time high in Colorado.
$82.8 million worth of marijuana was peddled at retailers in the month of October along with $35 million more in medical sales.
These figures marked a 46% cumulative year upon year increase for October.
The state government has collected over $151 million in taxes from legal Marijuana sales. Three different taxes are imposed on recreational marijuana in the state of Colorado – the standard 2.9 percent sales tax, a special 10 percent sales tax, and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers of which the first $40 million is earmarked for school construction projects.
ArcView Group, a research firm which specializes in the Cannabis industry, estimates that the legal marijuana industry in the United States could reach a figure of $22 Billion in total annual sales by the year 2020.
It is important to note, however, that the drug remains illegal on a federal level although it has been voted into legalization by several states. It remains to be seen how President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration will deal with the issue of marijuana legalization.
Although Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, three more states of Alaska, Oregon and Washington have also launched legalization programs of their own.
Last month, voters in California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts have all voted in favor of legalized recreational pot. Medical Marijuana is also legal in 28 states.
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Cover Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)