New reports rank Summit County 10th in Colorado’s recreational marijuana sales |

New reports rank Summit County 10th in Colorado’s recreational marijuana sales

Altitude Organic Cannabis is one of two marijuana dispensaries on Little Beaver Trail in Dillon and one of at least nine in Summit County. According to recently released retail marijuana sales data from the Colorado Department of Revenue, Summit County logged more than $17 million worth of recreational marijuana sales through the first 10 months of 2017, the most for any county located solely in Colorado’s High Country.
Eli Pace / |

2017 marijuana sales by county

Colorado retailers sold almost $1 billion worth of recreational marijuana based on data recently released by the Colorado Department of Revenue, which further breaks those sales down by the county. Below is a list of the top 15 counties with the highest aggregated recreational marijuana sales totals from January through October, the most recent months for which statistics were available.

Rank, County 2017 Sales

1. Denver $289.2 million

2. Arapahoe $85.5 million

3. Boulder County $61.5 million

4. Adams $45.1 million

5. Larimer $44.5 million

6. Jefferson $40.2 million

7. Las Animas $31 million

8. Pueblo County $30 million

9. Weld $24 million

10. Summit $17.8 million

11. La Plata $17.6 million

12. Garfield $16.6 million

13. Montezuma $14.5 million

14. Eagle $10.9 million

15. Pitkin $9.2 million

A newly released state data dump shows that little ol’ Summit County stands second to none among its Colorado High Country peers — and 10th overall across the state — when it comes to recreational marijuana retail.

The Cannabist, a marijuana-focused publication by The Denver Post, first reported on the newly available figures earlier in December, shortly after the Colorado Department of Revenue “published a mother lode of previously unreleased sales data for the state’s marijuana retailers,” according to the article’s author.

The new sales reports are posted online at the Colorado Department of Revenue website. They’re organized by the year and month, and backdated to 2014, the first year for which recreational marijuana sales were legal in the state.

Most interestingly, the new monthly reports reveal aggregate sales data for both medical and recreational marijuana retailers in Colorado, further breaking down those figures by the county in which they took place.

In a prepared statement, state officials characterized the move as one grounded in transparency. There are some holes in the numbers, such as more than $40 million worth of recreational sales labeled “not releasable” due to confidentiality requirements.

However, state officials say that, by offering up the sales reports, coupled with already released tax revenue, the new data should provide a more accurate picture “of the financial footprint of this burgeoning industry.”

Highest of the High Country

Defined by Colorado Counties, a membership-based, nonprofit organization that focuses on connecting Colorado’s counties, the state’s 64 counties can be lumped into any one of five distinct districts — including eastern, Front Range, western, southern or mountain.

The mountain district features a strip of Colorado’s High Country, beginning with the sparsely populated Jackson County on the Colorado-Wyoming border and expanding south to Custer County, another thinly populated jurisdiction, about 100 miles north of New Mexico.

The mountain district is known to contain Colorado’s highest peaks, some of its most rugged terrain and a large number of ski resorts.

In addition to Jackson and Custer, the district’s rounded out by Chaffee, Clear Creek, Eagle, Fremont, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Lake, Park, Pitkin, Teller and, of course, Summit counties.

According to the Summit Daily’s analysis of the newly released state reports, Summit County stands atop the mountain district with more than $2.3 million worth of recreational marijuana sales through the first 10 months of 2017, the most recent months for which those figures were available, and no other county in the mountain district came even close.

That includes Eagle County with Vail and Pitkin County with Aspen, which ranked No. 14 and No. 15 in the state, respectively, and never recorded numbers as high as Summit’s.

Looking outside the mountain district, Summit’s marijuana sales also dwarf other popular mountain designations, like Crested Butte, Telluride and Steamboat Springs, all of which came in significantly behind Pitkin and Eagle counties, let alone Summit.

Some might make the argument Larimer County, which goes from Interstate 25 on the Front Range past Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains, is one county in the High Country that consistently beats out Summit.

That might be true, but that argument also ignores that the vast majority of Larimer’s population base — and its retail marijuana sales — happen at lower altitudes, in cities like Fort Collins, which contains a major four-year university with an enrollment that’s about 3,000 students greater than Summit’s entire population.

As such, the majority of Larimer County’s $44.5 million in pot sales from January through October didn’t happen in the High Country.

Colorado’s Top 10 Weed counties

With almost $300 million in recreational marijuana sales from January through October alone, Denver far outpaces any other Colorado community or county when it comes to recreational marijuana sales.

According to the Department of Revenue, going into November, Denver was more than $200 million ahead of the next closest county in 2017, Arapahoe, which also happens to share a border with Denver.

Rounding out the top 10 counties on the list are Boulder, Adams, Larimer, Jefferson, Las Animas, Pueblo, Weld and Summit, in that order. Based on that lineup, it’s pretty obvious that population matters, and other factors, like tourism or proximity to a border, can come into play.

Still, for Summit to do almost as much business for recreational marijuana as a county like Weld, which has a four-year university and a population over 285,000 people, is somewhat remarkable.

Even more interesting is that from January to March — the best three months of 2017 for Summit County’s nine pot shops — they actually sold about $1.2 million more worth of recreational marijuana than the dispensaries in Weld County did over the same three-month period.

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