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Reefer Madness
Colorado's Pot Market Breaks Record This Summer

Pot sales reached record-breaking levels in June in Colorado. According to Slate, dispensaries did $24.7 million in sales, a 19 percent increase overall from May. More:

In the first six months of 2014, recreational marijuana sales in Colorado totaled $115 million, which has translated into $20 million for the taxman, notes Colorado Public Radio. Recreational and medical pot sales totaled a whopping $308 million during the January-June period. While medical sales continue to outpace recreational purchases, the trend could soon shift as more recreational stores open. There are around 120 recreational pot dispensaries in the state, compared to some 500 medical storefronts.

Legalization unsurprisingly has created an enormous demand for the drug. But what the Slate story doesn’t quite delve into is the demographics of those buying the marijuana. Previous reports found that drug use was concentrated among heavy users even in a legal market, and that legalization had basically given that subset of users the opportunities it needed to sink further and further into destructive, compulsive consumption of the drug. While this recent surge in sales may be partially attributable to those chasing a recreational high, it seems more likely to be driven by the increasing dependency among heavy pot users.

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  • Martin W. Lewis

    You are jumping to conclusions here with little or no evidence. I doubt that many “heavy pot users” would have significantly changed their habits based on the legal status of the substance. Cannabis tourism from other states probably plays a greater role.

  • Andrew Allison

    Critical thinking 101: The recent surge in sales seems much more likely to be driven by increased “Marijuana Tourism”, reported to account for 44% of sales just a month ago and no doubt increasing, rather than “dependency among heavy pot users”. TF’s extremely selective reporting on this subject is distressing.

    • Breif2

      If only I could think of a way to take the edge off this distress… 🙂

  • Thirdsyphon

    It seems a bit rash to assume that the demand driving these increased sales emerged from nowhere. It seems far more likely that the sales figures reflect demand that was previously being met through the illegal market for marijuana rather than demand that never existed until pot was legal.

    • Andrew Allison

      . . . demand from places where marijuana remains illegal rather than demand that never existed until pot was legal. Doesn’t it seem more likely that”heavy users of the drug” immediately switched to (lower cost/risk) legal purchases, and the that increase is largely due to out-of-State customers?

      • Thirdsyphon

        That could very well be the case, but even then it’s still demand that would otherwise have been met by the illegal market. . just not in Colorado.

  • Roy_Lofquist

    Retail sales will decrease rapidly as the black market adjusts to being a gray market. It will be cheaper because of low overhead and no taxes. New York is a prime example where more than half of cigarette sales are outside retail channels. It will also be more convenient. The corner tavern is going to have a lot of one beer patrons.

  • rheddles

    If people are sinking into destructive, compulsive consumption of drugs there should be some evidence of the destruction other than increased sales. Are traffic fatalities up? Failure rates of mandatory drug tests? Employment terminations for cause? Divorce rates? Where is the evidence of social cost? If the people who were junkies have turned into total junkies, it’s hard to see the cost.

  • JohnThackr

    Your Twitter link was particularly deceptive, where you claimed that “Colorado pot use jumped by 19 percent.” What we know is that legal pot sales increased by 19%. We don’t know whether that’s because of tourists (whether just coming for marijuana, or e.g. coming into Red Rocks to see Widespread Panic), of regular users switching from the illegal to the legal market, or what.

  • TheCynical1

    It seems ironic: the greens tilt at windmills, opposing Keystone while ignoring the reality that the oil will be going into the market anyway, one way or another, and the Professor rightly calls out the greens for being unable or unwilling to come to grips with this — yet the Professor criticizes marijuana liberalization while ignoring the reality that pot is also going into the market, one way or another, legal or not.

    I agree with the Professor’s recent comment about Keystone, “We’re going to consume this crude, so we might as well do so in the safest, sanest way possible”; I suggest something similar could be said for marijuana.

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