Officials in the city of Denver released its annual cannabis industry report, which covers a wealth of information about most recent data and its comparison to previous years.
A report called “The Denver Collaborative Approach,” conducted by the city of Denver, Colorado, was released on September 20. This report has been consistently published every year since 2015, one year after recreational legalization was implemented. The report covers a wide variety of industry facts and figures, including cannabis taxes, sales and revenue, noteworthy accomplishments and more.
“As legalization spreads across the United States, Denver remains squarely in focus. More than ever, the city is looked at to provide guidance on how it effectively implemented and continues to manage the first-of-its-kind sales and commercialization of voter-approved retail marijuana,” the report states in its introduction.
It continues to recap the fluid efforts of the Denver Office of Marijuana Policy and how it is constantly at work to ensure that the city’s cannabis industry remains compliant. “Denver continues its collaborative approach to marijuana management, remaining nimble and flexible to keep pace with the sustained growth of sales and innovation in the marijuana industry, while remaining in constant communication with the industry and residents to ensure balance among many competing interests.”
In January 2014, Denver was home to 731 medical cannabis business licenses and 270 retail licenses. As of January 2021, the number of licenses is much more balanced, sitting at 441 and 476 respectively (although January 2020 showed similar results).
The report’s sales data only reflects sales that were collected in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, recreational cannabis sales increased by 18 percent, and medical cannabis sales increased by 31 percent. For the entirety of the state of Colorado during the same timeframe, recreational cannabis sales increased by 25 percent, with medical sales expanding at a rate of 31 percent.
Unsurprisingly, 32.6 percent of the state’s recreational cannabis sales came from the city and county of Denver. This exhibits a consistent decrease in sales from Denver, which suggests that cities outside of Denver have continued to grow and expand. As a whole, combined Colorado retail and medical cannabis sales is recorded at $715 million during 2020 (a 21 percent increase from 2019).
So far in 2021, $24.6 million of the city’s cannabis revenue was granted toward “affordable housing and homelessness services, youth violence prevention, STAR program pilot implementation, leases and other one-time equipment costs.”
The report spotlights some of the city’s accomplishments between 2014-2020, which includes donating money toward various community services, such as free after-school and summer programs for children and the establishment of a recreation center in 2018. The report also notes what other changes it seeks to implement. First, the city intends to examine how it can further assist local cannabis businesses on a financial, technical and business support level. It also aims to “provide social equity applicants licensing exclusivity for most licenses for the next six years and the exclusive ability to conduct deliveries for the next three years.”
Second, it wants to continue a focus on clearing cannabis-related convictions with its Turn Over a New Leaf Program, which was first put into effect in 2019. So far, the program has received 583 applications, and 94 convictions were labeled as “eligible” for expungement.
“Under the leadership of Mayor Hancock, the city has adopted a collaborative model to manage marijuana, which includes multiple agencies working together to preserve, protect and enhance Denver’s excellent quality of life. This work is grounded in the city’s priorities of marijuana management, including robust regulation, strict enforcement, effective education and equitable access to the industry.”
The report’s last section goes into great detail about the city’s law enforcement data, including details about black market sales and common offenses. The Denver Police Department collected 3,098 pounds of illegal cannabis in 2020. Local police report that cannabis-related offenses account for less than one percent of all crime in the city of Denver, with a total of 435 in 2020 (out of the city’s total offenses across the board, which sits at 73,322).
“The Denver Collaborative Approach” report is a valuable source of information regarding the city’s cannabis industry, and it’s a positive example of a city embracing all aspects of cannabis within its borders.