Colorado’s burgeoning legal marijuana industry has quickly made gains on the state’s largest industries, including the mighty oil-and-gas sector, and contributed an economic impact of $2.39 billion last year, according to new research reported by the Denver Post. The cannabis industry, the fastest-growing business sector in the state, is credited with funding 18,005 direct and ancillary full-time jobs last year, said the Marijuana Policy Group (MPG), a Denver-based economic and market research firm that consults with businesses and governments.
MPG developed a “marijuana impact model” to show how legalization affects the state economy in the areas of output, tax revenue, GDP, and employment. “By legalizing, the state has gained a windfall more or less for free,” said Miles Light, one of the report’s authors. Colorado’s cannabis sales are largely driven by a shift from the gray and black markets, MPG said, noting that the pull from the gray and black markets account for 36.2 percent of Colorado’s 42.4 percent sales growth rate. In the coming years, that growth rate will slow to 11.3 percent as visitor sales drop as more states legalize, the report said. By 2020, Colorado’s marijuana industry should surpass tobacco as the state’s largest excise revenue source, but cannabis sales should reach a saturation point, MPG said.