Marijuana in the news
Aspen dispensaries beat city’s liquor stores in revenue last year
Marijuana dispensaries hauled in $11.3 million in revenue last year in Aspen. Compare that to $10.5 million for its liquor stores, and 2017 marked the first time the city’s marijuana sales topped its liquor sales.
The figures were provided by the city’s year-end sales tax report for 2017, which showed Aspen’s retailers generated $730.4 million in revenue last year combined, up 2 percent from 2016.
Of Aspen’s 12 retail sectors, the marijuana industry enjoyed the biggest rate of growth, jumping 16 percent in 2017 over 2016’s $9.7 million in sales, while liquor stores’ sales were flat.
Six pot shops and five liquor stores exist within Aspen city limits. At one time last year, the city had seven dispensaries, but one closed in the fall.
Legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado debuted Jan. 1, 2014. Aspen initially grouped liquor and pot sales together, but began treating them as separate retail categories in September.
— The Aspen Times, February 2018
Brewmaster trades alcohol for THC-infused beer
The man behind Blue Moon Belgian White Ale, brewmaster Keith Villa has unveiled a new venture: Ceria Beverages, an Arvada-based firm that’s developing a line of non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused craft beers.
Villa retired in January from a 32-year brewing career with Coors Brewing Co., Molson Coors and MillerCoors.
Ceria partnered with Colorado cannabis firm Ebbu, which specializes in tailoring cannabinoid extracts and formulations for cannabis-infused consumer products or medicines.
Ebbu’s recent efforts to have cannabinoid infusions deliver consistent and specific sensory experiences “really gives a person control over the experience that they’re having,” CEO Jon Cooper told The Cannabist.
On its face, Ceria will look much like a craft brewer. Villa will develop a couple different types of beer and then put them through a de-alcoholization process. The alcohol-free suds will then be sent to a licensed cannabis manufacturing facility where they will be infused with Ebbu’s proprietary formulation of water-soluble cannabinoids. From there, the brews can be shipped to licensed dispensaries.
Ceria plans to start selling its beers in Colorado by the end of the year and is targeting licensing arrangements in other adult-use markets such as California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon for 2019.
— The Cannabist, March 2018
First social marijuana license approved in Denver
A Denver coffee shop has received city approval for the nation’s first business license to allow marijuana use by patrons under a 2016 voter-approved initiative.
The Coffee Joint soon can allow customers age 21 or older to vape or consume edibles they bring to the cafe, which is already open. But the shop will not allow any smoking, which is allowed only outdoors under state law, and can’t sell any marijuana products on-site.
The owners of the shop, which has ownership ties to a dispensary next door, had been expecting official approval after a public license hearing Feb. 9 drew no opposition. Now co-owner Rita Tsalyuk is eager to allow consumption pending building and safety inspections, along with a schedule of yoga classes and educational and art events.
“Tons of people already came in,” she said. “We’re offering free coffee and sneak previews” of the shop.
Approved by 54 percent of Denver voters in November 2016, Initiative 300 resulted in the availability of the first-of-its-kind cannabis consumption establishment license under a pilot program.
— Denver Post, February 2018
Frisco pot sales decline two consecutive months
Frisco’s marijuana sales declined in two consecutive months in the summer of 2017 for the first time since recreational marijuana became legal for adults in January 2014.
According to Frisco’s sales tax report, marijuana sales, which are entirely dependent on two dispensaries on opposite sides of Summit Boulevard, experienced steady to dramatic growth every month last year compared to the same months in 2016, that is until July’s marijuana sales came in 6.7 percent behind July 2016. The following month, August was 0.6 percent behind August 2016.
The only other time Frisco had a same-month decrease in pot sales prior to last summer was in November 2016, when revenue was about four-fifths what it was compared to November 2015.
Every other month on record, Frisco pot sales have increased compared to the same month the previous year.
— Summit Daily, November 2017
Breckenridge’s 25-month run of rising pot sales comes to end
Getting high was down in Breckenridge for the first time in more than two years last September — or at least that’s what sales at the town’s dispensaries seemed to indicate.
Compared to September 2016, marijuana sales revenue fell 1.7 percent in Breckenridge. The decline wasn’t terribly significant by itself, but the small dip did put an end to the town’s 25-month run of rising marijuana sales.
Breckenridge’s “weedtail” category, as officials have creatively coined it, can easily be described as “wacky,” said finance director Brian Waldes, who’s seen wild spikes and flat-lines tracking local marijuana sales since January 2014.
The 25-month run of same-month increases, interestingly enough, immediately followed a five-month stint in 2015 where pot sales actually declined. Waldes said that, at the time, he thought the burgeoning market might have found the ceiling, “the thrill was gone, the novelty had worn off.”
“It all seemed to make sense, anecdotally,” he said, but then marijuana went back “through the roof again” for the rest of 2015. The trend continued throughout 2016 and well into 2017.
In a highly seasonal, tourist-driven economy, Breckenridge’s pot sales typically fluctuate between about $500,000 and $1 million a month. Last March stood out as the high-water mark with $1.3 million in sales.
— Summit Daily News,
New rules ban edibles from taking shapes of humans, animals, fruit
New marijuana rules that went into effect Oct. 1 aim to keep marijuana products from getting into the hands of children.
“These regulations reflect extensive stakeholder input focused on public safety and legislative intent,” Colorado Department of Revenue executive director Mike Hartman said in a news release.
“Marijuana products in shape and branding should not be enticing to children, and we want consumers to be educated about the potency of the products they are buying,” he continued. “These rules ensure that to be the case.”
Marijuana stores are no longer allowed to sell marijuana-infused edibles in the shapes of humans, animals or fruit. That includes shapes that resemble realistic or fictional renderings, including artistic renditions, caricatures and cartoons.
Edible products that are in geometric shapes or fruit-flavored will still be allowed.
Steamboat Springs-based Rocky Mountain Remedies is owned by Kevin Fisher, who helped shape some of the state’s first marijuana laws. Fisher said the rule is not intended to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids who knowingly want to use it. Instead, it is intended to be less attractive to young children who do not know what the products are.
“We’re trying to create another level of safety for them,” he said.
— Steamboat Today, September 2017
State mandates new, universal THC symbol for pot products
Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division has released a new symbol to be included on the labeling of all cannabis products sold in state.
“The adoption of a single universal symbol is part of our ongoing effort to protect public health and safety by enhancing consumers’ ability to identify products containing marijuana and reducing confusion stemming from two distinct symbols,” said Michael Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees the division.
“One truly universal symbol also works to simplify and improve industry compliance with regard to packaging and labeling,” he added.
— The Cannabist, March 2018
Report: Colorado’s wholesale pot prices reach ‘new depths’
When it comes to wholesale prices, the lowest average weekly state-level price ever recorded by Cannabis Benchmarks — $1,181 per pound — came in the first half of 2017 in the Mile High State, according to the market-research firm’s 2017 mid-year report.
Cannabis Benchmarks has been tracking marijuana sales across the U.S., much like others do corn, wheat or soybean, and publishing a weekly wholesale price index, in addition to two annual reports, since spring 2015.
According to the company’s 2017 mid-year report, there’s been a downward trend in wholesale prices across the U.S., but the decline throughout the first half of 2017 was more dramatic in Colorado, described as a “gradual slide into uncharted depths.”
Coming into 2016, in fact, Colorado’s wholesale prices were the highest among what Cannabis Benchmarks has dubbed the “Big 4” — California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — but that has since changed.
The report attributes Colorado’s falling wholesale prices — which hit levels below anything ever seen in any other state — to increased supply, fierce competition and the state’s comparatively lax regulatory framework.
— Summit Daily News, October 2017
Survey: Over half of marijuana users think it’s safe to drive high
Along with healthy growth in Colorado’s marijuana industry come concerns about stoned driving, which public safety officials worry is prevalent and deemed acceptable by more than half of marijuana users.
“There’s definitely more of a stigma against driving drunk than driving high, and that’s something we do need to change,” Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Sam Cole said.
To that end, CDOT is ramping up its efforts to keep people from driving high, including an advertising campaign, partnerships with ride-sharing companies to provide discounts and a grassroots education campaign set to begin in 2018.
Among marijuana users surveyed by CDOT in November 2016, 55 percent said they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. Within that group, the same percentage said they had driven high in the past 30 days, on average 12 times.
“They really don’t understand the dangers of driving high,” Cole said. “Your reaction time is impaired, your perception of distance and speed is impaired, and that can lead to a crash.”
CDOT’s findings are partially backed up by data from Instamotor, a car sales app that found 39 percent of surveyed marijuana users felt comfortable driving high in the nine states where the drug is legal.
A recent analysis of federal traffic fatality data by the Denver Post found that the number of Colorado drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled since 2013. Many of those also had alcohol in their systems, but the number of drivers who tested positive for only marijuana increased as well, albeit by a slimmer margin.
— Summit Daily, November 2017
Marijuana’s 4/20 holiday tied to rise in fatal car crashes
CHICAGO — Marijuana users’ self-proclaimed holiday is linked with a slight increase in fatal U.S. car crashes, an analysis of 25 years of data found.
The study lacks evidence on whether pot was involved in any of the April 20 crashes, but marijuana can impair driving ability. Previous studies have shown that many pot-using motorists drive after partaking and think it’s safe to do so.
The researchers analyzed U.S. government data on fatal traffic accidents from 1992 — shortly after 4/20 was popularized as a pot holiday in High Times magazine — through 2016. They compared driver deaths on that date with deaths on a day the week before and the week after during the study period.
Deaths increased slightly in most but not all states, amounting to an overall increased risk of 12 percent — or an extra 142 driver deaths linked with the holiday, said lead author Dr. John Staples at the University of British Columbia.
Other studies have found a similarly elevated risk linked with alcohol and driving on Super Bowl Sunday and New Year’s Eve.
Most accidents had no police data on drug testing so there’s no way to confirm that marijuana was involved, but researchers think the drug was responsible for some crashes.
— Associated Press, February 2018
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