Colorado Expects Falling Tourism, Wages To Hurt Cannabis Sales

Tourists accounted for 7 to 9 percent of marijuana consumption in Colorado

Marijuana sales hit another record in March, according to Colorado Department of Revenue data released on May 11, with dispensaries selling more weed that month than in any previous March.

But that success will be short-lived, according to a budget forecast released one day later, taking COVID-19’s economic impact into account.

The May 12 report from the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting predicts that declines in tourism and worker wages across Colorado are likely to lead to a 2.7 percent dip in marijuana sales tax revenue across the state during the 2020-’21 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

While that might seem like a modest decrease compared to a 63 percent reduction in expected revenue from newly legal sports gambling operations, it would be the first time that marijuana sales tax revenues didn’t jump year over year, whether fiscal or calendar, since recreational dispensaries opened in 2014. And until more tourists return to Colorado, dispensaries will be feeling a stiff punch to the gut.

“Estimates prepared for the Department of Revenue suggest that tourists accounted for 7 to 9 percent of marijuana consumption in Colorado between 2014 and 2017,” the report notes, adding that marijuana sales tax revenue is expected to drop to under $300 million through June 2021.

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