Colorado has set a new record for monthly marijuana sales more than five years since becoming the first state in the country to legalize retail pot, officials announced Monday.
State-licensed marijuana dispensaries reported $114.3 million worth of recreational sales in March 2019, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, surpassing the previous monthly record of nearly $113 million set last August.
Taking into account both medical and recreational marijuana, the department said that Colorado’s marijuana dispensaries reported a combined total of over $142 million in sales this past March.
“People are realizing that this is here to stay, it’s not a joke,” said Peter Marcus of the Terrapin Care Station chain of pot shops, Denver’s Fox 31 reported. “These are safe, regulated places to purchase cannabis, so people who might have been unwilling or hesitant to get involved in the first place, are now seeing that it’s totally acceptable.”
Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes in 2000 and 2012, respectively, and the nation’s first retail dispensaries opened in the state on January 1, 2014.
Marijuana sales within the state have swelled every year since, with combined medical and recreational sales going from $683.5 million in 2014, to more than $1.5 billion in 2018.
Between January and March, Colorado’s dispensaries have already sold more than $386 million worth of medical and recreational marijuana, according to the revenue office.
California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and most of the country – 33 states and counting – have followed suit.
Only a half-dozen have copied Colorado in allowing licensed dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana, however – Alaska California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.
Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, effectively prohibiting the plant under federal law and theoretically making licensed dispensaries like Colorado’s criminally liable.
William Barr, President Trump’s attorney general, testified last month that he would rather see marijuana federally legalized than let states continue to defy prohibition.
“Personally, I would still favor one uniform federal rule against marijuana but, if there is not sufficient consensus to obtain that, then I think the way to go is to permit a more federal approach so states can make their own decisions within the framework of the federal law and so we’re not just ignoring the enforcement of federal law,” said Mr. Barr.
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