As the number of medical marijuana shops and dispensary-related crimes in Colorado Springs has dropped over the past five years, medical pot tax revenue has skyrocketed. As marijuana industry matures, data from the city’s police department and the Colorado Department of Revenue suggests that interesting trends are beginning to emerge amid growing pains that have attracted national attention, including the cash-only nature of the business.
The numbers don’t lie
In June 2010, Colorado Springs had 303 locations associated with medical marijuana licenses. However, numerous medical marijuana stores and growers were targets of burglaries 42 times that year. Fast forward today, the city has roughly half as many licensed locations and almost nonexistent burglaries. “One of the reasons that has gone down significantly is because of the surveillance and safety precautions medical marijuana dispensaries have put in place, such as locks and bars on the windows,” said Lt. Catherine Buckley, Colorado Springs police spokeswoman. It is also a strong indicator that the medical marijuana industry is getting stronger and more mature. Some industry insiders predict that El Paso County’s tax revenue from medical marijuana would top $2 million this year based on tax revenue collected through April. That’s more than double what the local businesses brought in during fiscal year 2011-2012, when revenue was just less than $1 million.
Decreased crime is indicator of grown up industry
In new industries, it’s common for the market to be saturated at first with everyone wants a piece of pie of what could potentially become a great business venture. Lots of players jump in right away, and weaker ones are “washed out” gradually. Since 2012, when the number of locations with marijuana businesses bottomed out at 127, the number of licenses and licensed locations has slowly but steadily increased, and tax revenue continued to climb. At this point it’s safe to assume that the industry has gotten much more sophisticated, and the burglars are aware of the changes, which is why the number of crimes has decreased this much.
Big changes for Colorado medical marijuana rules
Colorado’s medical pot rules are almost identical to the recreational pot rules. Among the changes that are expected to happen soon, the Colorado administration wants to crack down on caregivers by requiring them to tell health authorities where they grow the pot, which is currently optional, and only about 5 percent of approximately 3,000 caregivers do it. Another change is proposed for medical marijuana, which should be tested for potency and contaminants before it is sold. These tests were optional for medical market, but required for the recreational one. This should’ve been done a long time ago, at the beginning, as it makes no sense. Patients agreed to this, but testing companies said that the new regulations would prohibit them from accepting homegrown cannabis, leaving patients reliant on pricier marijuana from dispensaries. It’s not fair, but those are the rules of the market. After all, who wouldn’t want to pay a bit extra for the peace of mind?