How Lucrative Will Colorado’s Recreational Marijuana Business Be?


Recreational pot prices in Colorado, including hefty new state and local marijuana taxes that in Denver near a 29 percent tax rate on pot sales, are nearly double the price for medical pot in the state, reports. When business ended on the first day of legalization — Jan 1 — the 37 pot shops statewide reportedly had racked up $1 million in sales. It seems like a perfect situation for someone to make a lot of money. But is the legal weed market really as lucrative as it appears?

The people most likely to benefit are those previously selling licensed medical marijuana, because for the first nine months of 2014, they're the only businesses allowed to enter the recreational market. Still, nearly all the money coming in the door is going right back out in expenses. Slate took a look at the existing financial situation for Colorado dispensaries by convincing one of them to show us its books. “They all think we're making money hand over fist,” says Brandon, the 29-year-old-proprietor of a midsize Denver operation, which has been in business since 2009. Located in a stylish downtown building filled with loft-like workspaces, his dispensary sees about 50 customers a day from its stable of 300 or so regular medical marijuana patients, and up to about 80 sales a day on Fridays and Saturdays. With each of his customers spending about $65 per visit, lately he's been bringing in upward of $100,000 in revenue per month. In 2013, he brought in $1 million in sales for the first time, and he could stand to gain significantly from recreational pot sales.

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