This article is part 1 in a 4 part series looking at how cannabis sales benefit the citizens of Fort Collins.
The numbers are coming in, and it’s clear that Fort Collins dispensaries are poised to make major growth gains over sales in 2015 by about 65% year over year.
If you recall from my previous article, the State of Colorado as a whole sold $996 million of cannabis in 2015 with $121 million in tax revenue. By going over the city sales tax data and publicity available data from the Marijuana Enforcement Division, I’ve been able to calculate the amount of sales and taxes collected within the city limits. Marijuana is currently one of the fastest growing industries in Fort Collins, and a significant source of tax revenue.
Fort Collins has had varying numbers of dispensaries inside the city limits, which are included in this data. These numbers DO NOT include any data on Flower Power or Choice Organics as they reside in the county and do not charge city sales tax. I’ll have more on county data in an upcoming article.
2015 Fort Collins Sales and Taxes
$24.4 million total sales within city limits
$1.2 million total taxes received by city
12 medical dispensaries and 5 recreational dispensaries within the city limits
2.5% of state total sales for 2015
You can see steady growth across both medical and retail sales throughout 2015, even though we started 2015 with 4 rec dispensaries and ended with just 5.
2016 Fort Collins Sales and Taxes
*Please remember these number only include 10 months of the year so far
$31.9 million total sales within city limits – projected to reach $40 million
$1.6 million total taxes received by city – projected to reach $2 million
10 medical dispensaries and 10 recreational dispensaries within the city limits
In June of this year, Fort Collins hit its capacity for dispensaries within the city. Because of the statutes around dispensaries the city will currently only allow 10 of each kind of dispensary within the city limits. Two of the dispensaries grandfathered in before the statute have closed and no more licenses will be issued. The statute is based off of the current number of medical marijuana card holders in Larimer County. One dispensary for every 500 patients, and recreational dispensaries may only be opened in conjunction with a medical establishment.
There’s a couple of distinct factors in looking at sales growth. We’re finally running at max capacity for recreational dispensaries. And you can see the evident shift in sales as recreational picks up steam. There’s also some speculation that part of the recreational growth is due to shift purchases from the black market into legal channels. I’m highly skeptical of that in Fort Collins and will discuss that in-depth in the 4th part of the series. It’s also impossible to tell just how much of the growth is due to tourism and consumers outside of the city limits. Fort Collins is the only green city in the surrounding area. Loveland, Wellington, Timnath, and Windsor all prohibit sales. You’ve got to drive to Berthoud, Greeley, or Boulder before you can legally purchase in Northern Colorado.
In 2015 we had 12 medical dispensaries, but started 2016 with just the allotted 10 due to attrition. So the decrease we’re seeing in medical sales in the later half of 2016 isn’t due to access. Nor are we looking at a reduction in medical marijuana card holders. Larimer County had 5286 red card holders at the end of 2015 and as of September 30th, 2016 has 5466 card holders (almost there to trigger another license in Fort Collins!). There’s been whisperings of supply issues, but no one within the industry wants to confirm that as a potential reason for decreased medical sales. It’s also possible that more medical patients are turning to caregivers or home growing for their needs.
The majority of the sales growth can therefore be attributed to the recreational side of the market. We ended 2015 with 5 dispensaries selling retail, started 2016 with 7 and hit our capacity of 10 in June. The increase in availability has driven monthly sales in 2016 alone from just under $2 million a month to $3.5 million with the expectation to hit $3.9 a month by the end of the year.
It’s clear that there’s still a growing demand for marijuana in Northern Colorado. And as the only green city in the region, Fort Collins stands to significantly benefit from the industry. Part 2 of our series for focus on the tax revenue the city receives and what it’s funding for all of our citizens.