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Colorado sold a record $1.75 billion of cannabis last year

A man is draped in pro-marijuana colors during the Denver 420 Rally, the world's largest celebration of both the legalization of cannabis and cannabis culture, May 21, 2016 in Denver Coloroado. The western mountainous Colorado is one of four US states along with the District of Columbia that has legalized the use of recreational marijuana. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

DENVER — This time last year, it appeared that Colorado’s industry was plateauing. Now it’s surging.

Colorado cannabis shops notched sales of nearly $1.75 billion during 2019, setting a new annual sales record for the state home to the nation’s longest-established recreational cannabis industry, according to Colorado Department of Revenue data first reported by the Denver Westword.

The new high water mark for sales netted more than $302.4 million in tax revenue for the state’s coffers, where that money is divvied up into various buckets to fund programs such as school construction, law enforcement, public health, drug education and public safety.

The 2019 figures showcase a surprising surge in growth from a market that a year ago appeared to be flattening out. Colorado’s cannabis sales increased 13% from 2018, bouncing back from a 2.5% year-over-year growth rate from 2017 to 2018.

Those slow growth rates were largely driven by price drops on flower, or cannabis bud, Tom Adams, managing director at cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics, told CNN Business.

“To see it turn around in 2019 is a bullish indicator that price compression can’t keep the popularity of legal cannabis down,” he said.

Adams attributed the rebound in Colorado’s sales growth to two key factors: the increasing prevalence of non-flower products and changes in consumer behavior.

The profusion of edibles, beverages, vapes and concentrates resulted in a smaller market share for the familiar flower. Separately, people are growing comfortable with buying cannabis products and integrating those purchases into their shopping patterns, he said, noting recent BDS studies that showed increases in the number of adults who reported consuming cannabis in the prior six month period.

“It’s just become a part of people’s lives more and more,” he said.

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