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$300/month spent by each resident on Pot? What does this mean for real estate?


The Colorado Department of Revenue that collects taxes on Marijuana has finally broken out marijuana sales by county.  The information is fascinating and unequivocally shows the impact marijuana is having on various areas throughout the state.  I assume you can pick out a few interesting outliers from the chart above?  This information is critical for all real estate owners/investors since this industry now uses quite a bit of space throughout the state (from warehouses to retail locations).  Why is this so important?

After looking at the county data on the department of revenue website there are some very apparent patterns.  Why are las animas county residents such huge consumers of pot? Does each resident actually spend over $300/month on pot Las Animas county clearly does not use exponentially more pot than Boulder County!

The county data is telling another story!

How did I get the data above? (see my excel spreadsheet with raw data for all the counties: Marijuana sales analysis CO dept of revenue data

I started with the raw data from the Colorado Department of Revenue.  I then matched the latest population census data with each county to calculate the spending per resident.  The graph above was produced with this data based on October 2017 sales data (the most recent data).  I then went back and looked at January 2017 data to see if there were other trends.  .


County January 2017
Sales 3
Oct 2017 sales
Denver $25,681,498 $33,586,096
Arapahoe $8,481,055 $9,221,783
Boulder $5,351,831 $6,744,069
Adams $4,192,709 $5,441,728
Jefferson $4,098,431 $4,104,272
Larimer $3,695,944 $5,315,541
Summit $2,678,675 $1,295,739
Weld $2,382,718 $2,554,620
Pueblo $2,334,107 $3,525,795
Las Animas $2,162,976 $4,192,076
La Plata $1,655,168 $1,971,031
Garfield $1,373,945 $1,773,496
Eagle $1,297,711 $982,903
Montezuma $1,146,208 $1,759,476


What does the data tell us?

From the data it is quite apparent that Colorado is not only a net exporter of marijuana but a tourist destination for marijuana. Let’s look at Las Animas county, this county has a population of around 15k people and yet they are selling more marijuana than Jefferson county with a population of 545k in the Denver metro area.  This is clearly not possible.  The larges city in Las Animas county is Trinidad which has set itself up as a marijuana mecca capturing traffic from NM and TX coming and going from Colorado.  This reminds me of what used to occur in Georgia.  In Georgia fireworks were illegal, yet they were legal just across the line in NC.  As soon as you cross the GA/NC border there were tons of fireworks stores to basically sell to GA residents.  This is the same thing occurring in Las Animas county.

Marijuana tourism

Look at the Summit County data.  In January at the heart of ski season sales are double what they are in October.  The influx of mainly out of state tourists no doubt drive marijuana sales in Summit county.  I focus on out of state since if someone were going to ski in Breckenridge, they would likely by marijuana in Denver where it is significantly cheaper and bring it with them on their vacation.  Don’t get me wrong I doubt someone plans a vacation to Breckenridge just for the marijuana so I don’t think marijuana unto itself is driving tourism in the state but the visitors are definitely consuming the product when they are here.


From the data Colorado both exports marijuana and relies on Marijuana tourism

Why is this critical?   Laws throughout the country are changing rapidly.  The entire west coast will now have legal recreational marijuana and many more states are considering initiatives in 2018 to legalize marijuana including two large recipients of Colorado marijuana (Arizona and New Mexico). As more states legalize marijuana Colorado will no longer pick up as much revenue from the out of state tourists.  For example, Trinidad will no longer be a marijuana destination if consumers can buy the product in their home state.

What about real estate

In Colorado supply continues to increase further depressing prices.  As more states come online with legal marijuana, the demand for Colorado marijuana will decrease.  This will further depress prices.  There is not nearly enough margin for retailers to absorb the decrease in retail prices.

This decrease in retail prices will flow through the supply chain back to the growers.  One of the key costs in the supply chain is physical space (warehouses, retail locations, etc..) that currently people pay above market rents for since conventional financing, leasing is not available due to the federal laws.

As prices continue to fall the real estate piece of the puzzle will also normalize.  For example, it will not be possible for a grower to continue to produce in Downtown Denver by renting a building, paying utilities, etc… The growing can be done much cheaper in a greenhouse or totally outdoors. Don’t get me wrong, the industry will not collapse since there will still be demand for the product, but margins will substantially decrease and costs will have to be reduced to stay in business.

2019 is going to be the year of reckoning for Colorado Marijuana businesses as more states come online and revenues decrease in the industry.  Real estate owners should take heed of the changes coming down the pipe



  1. ** based on 2012 census numbers


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Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending.  Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in the Colorado Real Estate Journal, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.

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