Month-over-month growth for the cannabis industry in Colorado has been strong since January 2015, the first month for which we had historical data to measure growth. That month, for example, saw growth of 36 percent compared to January 2014, according to cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics.
Ever since, growth for each month has tended to bounce around between 20 and 60 percent.
But this year we are witnessing some months with comparatively anemic growth.
Consider April, which experienced growth of 58 percent in 2016 compared to 2015. This April, though, sales grew by just 6.7 percent. Sales during July of last year grew by 27.5 percent. But this July? Just 11.6 percent. Growth this August, at 8.5 percent, is less than a third compared to last August, when growth was 25.3 percent.
Meanwhile, some categories, like vape pens, are growing like weeds. What gives?
Blame flower. The category, which through August of this year in Colorado has hauled in $492.3 million, represents the biggest slice of the cannabis pie — close to half of all sales. And growth for flower was just 5.8 percent during the period. Does that mean people are buying less cannabis? Au contraire — volume is actually up by 35 percent during the period. What it means is prices for flower are dropping.
The trend is not repeated in other states, at least to the same extent as in Colorado, which supports the most mature legal recreational cannabis marketplace in the United States. In April, when Colorado experienced such weak growth, sales in Washington spiked by 49 percent, and in July they were up by 25 percent, more than double the growth rate in Colorado.
August in Oregon witnessed a 33 percent rise in cannabis sales. April? Sales rose by 35.7 percent.
Has epic growth in Colorado peaked? It is far too early to say, and for some categories like vapes, pills, tinctures and more it seems unlikely. But as flower prices continue to dip, the dollars hauled into dispensaries through flower sales might stabilize, at least for a bit. Of course if prices rise again, then flower (and thus cannabis overall) could see fresh spikes on growth.