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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

    Colorado’s creative market shreds Canada’s

    Grayson Acri, Cannabis Reporter

    Colorado, along with Washington, is the oldest legal recreational cannabis market in North America.

    Amendment 64 to the Constitution of the State of Colorado legalized recreational cannabis in 2012, and sales began in 2014. All people of age in Colorado are able to carry up to two ounces or about 57 grams of cannabis or equivalent on their person as long as it’s concealed. Not all areas of the state signed up to allow dispensaries, but possession and use on private property are legalized statewide.

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    Since 2014, cannabis sales in the state have totaled over $12 billion, steadily increasing year after year. Since Canadian legalization (2018-2021), Colorado sales were $7.7 billion, which is about 88% of Canadian sales in that period, adjusted for currency conversion. Colorado’s population is just shy of 6 million people, and Canada has almost 37 million. 

    It’s no wonder we pull almost the same sales as the entire country of Canada. Colorado’s market has far more variety in product offerings. Canada legalized topicals and edibles in 2019; Colorado’s had them since 2014. Colorado products are mature and consistent, and similar products often make their way to Canada. All our dispensaries are private, so a greater variety of prices, locations and entrepreneurs get to take their shot in our market. 

    Our biggest Achilles’ heel is the limited scope of Amendment 64 — it only applies to Colorado. You cannot leave the state with cannabis legally, and use in public remains an offense.

    The excise tax on retail cannabis is 15%, which is competitive with some provinces, like Quebec, whose sales tax is 14.98%. Granted, the Colorado state sales tax is just 2.9%, so paraphernalia, papers and other products to get you high are considerably less taxed. 

    Plus, all retail marijuana excise taxes are put into the Public School Capital Construction Assistance fund in Colorado. The money is public, traceable and accountable. 

    The packaging requirements of the two jurisdictions we’re discussing here today are remarkably similar, but Colorado has an edge in my opinion. A large red THC label is required, similar to Canada, but so is a set of instructions to use the product. Plus, a “list of all nonorganic pesticides, fungicides and herbicides used” is required on packaging, and a list of solvents and chemicals used to make concentrates is required on their packaging.

    Prices in Colorado are not as good as their northern counterpart. A gram on average goes for $12 in Colorado, compared to Canada at CA$6.95. For that extra price, you get to try a large variety of products that even regularly compete, such as in the Connoisseur Cup, to determine the elevated way to get lifted.

    These winners have regularly appeared all across North America, cementing Colorado as a leader in the cannabis industry. There are also new innovations, such as CERIA Brewing Company, a brewery that makes THC-infused craft beers founded by Keith Villa, who started Blue Moon Brewing Company. 

    Colorado will always be a leader in the legal cannabis market. It was the first to legalize — along with Washington — and it continues to innovate and dominate. Colorado has a robust cannabis market with an excellent history of innovation, but until federal prohibition ends, the market cannot live up to its true potential. 

    Reach Grayson Acri at cannabis@collegian.com or on Twitter @Guy1376.

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    Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly said Washington legalized cannabis before Colorado, but both states passed the measure on the same day. 

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