Regional news: March sees record marijuana sales in Steamboat Springs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Extended business hours might help explain why Steamboat Springs’ three marijuana stores had record sales in March.
Stores began extending their hours Feb. 17, which means March was the first full month they were allowed to be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We were really surprised by the number of people we got in here after 7 p.m.,” Golden Leaf manager Paige O’Brien said.
According to a preliminary sales tax report, March sales for recreational marijuana were 32 percent over March 2016 with the city collecting $40,360 in tax revenue.
Total recreational sales for March were $1,009,000. It was the first time marijuana sales have exceeded $1 million in any single month.
“We were a lot busier than last year,” O’Brien said. “It seems like progressively we keep getting busier.”
If the local recreational marijuana industry continues to see monthly growth rates of at least 20 percent, $10 million worth of marijuana will be sold by the end of the year.
“I’d still say it’s attributable to marijuana tourism and the extended hours slightly,” Steamboat Springs City Council President Walter Magill said. “I still think it’s a novelty for people to come see and experience.”
The City Council was asked to consider extending the hours that marijuana stores could operate by Natural Choice, a local retail marijuana store that is planning to move to a more visible location at Curve Plaza.
The stores were allowed to be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. The council voted 5-2 on Feb. 7 to make the city’s rules mirror what is allowed by the state.
Some marijuana business owners had mixed feelings about being open longer.
“No more cannabis is going to be sold in Steamboat Springs,” Rocky Mountain Remedies owner Kevin Fisher said the day he extended his hours. “That’s for sure.”
Fisher, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, said it meant his payroll would increase by 20 percent.
O’Brien said that in addition to being open longer, the bump in March numbers could be attributable to a busy spring break.
“We had a lot of college kids … 21 and up of course,” she said.
Magill said he thinks marijuana tourism continues to attract people to Colorado from other states. But some signs indicate tourism was not exceptionally high in March in Steamboat. The city tracks the accommodation tax, which is a tax people pay when staying at lodging properties.
Accommodation taxes collected during March were 3.5 percent higher than March 2016. Alcohol sales during March were 7 percent higher than March 2016, and restaurant sales were up 0.3 percent.
Overall, the city collected 3.2 percent more sales tax in March compared to March 2016 with $2,755,717.
Marijuana sales for March accounted for 2 percent of the city’s sales tax collections while liquor store sales represented 3 percent of the total.
While recreational marijuana sales continue to increase, medicinal sales have been on the decline since November.
There was $177,350 worth of medical marijuana sold in March compared to $220,575 in March 2016.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @sbtstensland.