Medical Marijuana

The City of Denver collected more $70 million in sales tax revenue from the sale of $715 million of cannabis in 2020, according to Denver Department of License and Excise.

The City of Denver collected more than $70 million in sales tax revenue from $715 million in cannabis sales in 2020, a 17% jump from the $60 million collected in 2019, according to the Department of License and Excise.

The 204 marijuana stores in Denver, both medical and retail (recreational), notched a 21% increase in sales in 2020 from the $588.5 million in 2019 total sales, according to the department’s annual report released this week.

”We saw significant growth on a year-over-year basis,” said Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer for Wana Brands, an edibles manufacturer and retailer in 12 states and nine providences in Canada. “That’s a silver lining in an otherwise difficult year for everyone.”

As marijuana businesses were deemed “essential business” by state pandemic shutdown orders, workers continued cultivating and selling through socially distanced and masked retail outlets.

“The big story is cannabis consumers found a common, go-to solution for a product that’s calming and provides stress relief. We don’t see that ending,” Hodas said. 

When legal retail marijuana sales started in 2014, Denver accounted for 48% of all sales in the state. That number dwindled to 33% in 2020 as more cities have made retail sales legal.

Denver is projected to earn the same amount of tax revenue in 2021. Of that $70 million, $8.8 million goes to regulation, $10.3 million to affordable housing, $24.6 million to homelessness services “youth violence prevention, (Support Team Assisted Response) program pilot implementation, leases and other one-time equipment costs” and $34.8 goes to the general fund, according to the report.

Denver collects 26.4% tax on retail sales and 8.8% on medical marijuana.

The report also details Denver Police Department crime statistics. Burglaries of cannabis businesses continued to rise, to 175 in 2020, up from 122 the previous year.

“Denver is in the final stages of approving required new safe storage rules for marijuana products, which we hope will bring these numbers down,” the report states.

Unlawful public display or consumption charges dropped to 33 in 2020, down 372% from the 156 in 2019.

City Editor

Dennis Huspeni is a 30-year newspaper journalist who is the City Editor and covers metro Denver business.

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