Glenwood pot business tops $6M per year
The sale of marijuana, though still less than 1.5 percent of overall retail sales in Glenwood Springs, is becoming a significant sales sector for the city, on par with such things as home furnishings and taxable business services.
According to a breakout analysis provided by city finance officials of marijuana sales since 2014, when recreational retail sales became legal in Colorado, pot has turned into a $6.3 million-a-year business for Glenwood Springs.
In 2015, recreational sales alone accounted for nearly $4.5 million, up from $2.9 million in 2014 when Glenwood saw its first retail marijuana stores open up in May with the Green Dragon (formerly Greenwerkz) location on South Glen Avenue.
Medical sales, which are restricted to those holding doctor-issued cards, accounted for $1.8 million in taxable sales last year.
That was down from $2.1 million in 2014, suggesting some migration to the recreational side once non-medical sales became legal under Colorado’s Amendment 64, approved by voters in 2012.
The combined $6.3 million in marijuana sales comes in just short of furniture and home furnishings, which accounted for about $8.2 million in sales last year, and taxable business services, which brought in about $7.6 million.
Following a contentious summer last year that saw several proposed new marijuana stores rejected by the city and a rewrite of the local zoning rules to control their proliferation, Glenwood Springs now has four marijuana stores offering recreational sales.
Three of those operators also offer separate medical sales, including the two Green Dragon locations on Glen and Devereux Road and the Green Joint on Grand Avenue.
Martin’s Naturals at Sixth and Grand converted to strictly recreational sales last year. Green Natural Solutions, in the 700 block of Grand, remains the only local dispensary serving strictly medical patients.
Another sales outlet and cultivation facility, Osiris LLC, has city approvals to open on Devereux Road.
Dan Sullivan, owner of the Green Joint/Green Medicine Wellness, said the sales numbers don’t surprise him.
“A year ago, it looked like Glenwood was on track to have $6 million in marijuana sales, so it’s interesting to see that’s where we ended up,” Sullivan said. “I know for us, summer is a bigger recreational pull, just like any other business in town … so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number click up closer to $7 million this year.”
Darren Hofert, who owns Green Natural Solutions with his wife, Shalynn, said the decision to remain a medical dispensary only has been a good one.
“We have an extremely different business model that’s geared more toward the working professional and people with cancer who want to come in and consult with someone and get informed information about their medical needs,” Hofert said.
In addition to the consumer benefit, it does provide an economic benefit to the city, he acknowledged.
Medical marijuana purchases are taxed at 8.6 percent, where state and local sales and excise taxes on recreational purchases can exceed 20 percent.
In addition to local sales taxes, the city of Glenwood Springs also received $67,859 as its share of the state marijuana tax last year, and $43,245 in 2014.
Through April of this year, the city saw more than $1.3 million in recreational marijuana sales, and another $665,678 in taxable medical marijuana sales, according to the city’s analysis.
Overall, the city saw a 4.7 percent increase in retail sales for April compared with the same month last year, according to the monthly sales tax report for April. Year-to-date, retail activity is up 4.5 percent.
Overnight stays in Glenwood Springs continue to be strong, with accommodations tax collections showing a 8.4 percent increase for the year, including 7.8 percent in April.
Other retail sectors that continue to show gains in the year-over-year comparison are building materials and supplies, up 6.5 percent; automobile sales, servicing and parts, up 8.5 percent; and food sales, up 1.9 percent
The April report does indicate a leveling-off when it comes to people eating out. Sales taxes for restaurants and bars were down .04 percent for the year to date through four months.
The largest single retail category, general merchandise, is also down slightly at 0.9 percent, while the much smaller furniture and home furnishings category is down 9.8 percent, and sales of apparel and accessories was down 2.2 percent.
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Several Carbondale businesses are scrambling to relocate and others are just plain calling it quits following plans for one of the town’s oldest strip malls to be redeveloped.