April 20 is nothing less than Christmas for stoners, and they spend the money to prove it: Legal pot shops in Colorado and Washington sold record amounts of marijuana on 4/20 this year, according to new data from those states.
Four years after voters there legalized cannabis for recreational use, sales continue to climb. That means tax revenue is on the rise, too. And that means a growing financial benefit to the taxpayers who voted to legalize.
Colorado sales reached new heights
Cannabis sales shot up dramatically between April 20, 2015, and the same day this year, according to two data-analysis firms. Pot shops in Colorado sold $7.3 million in legal marijuana for the day, up 53 percent from 4/20 in 2015, and smashed the previous record of $6.1 million on Sept. 16, a tax holiday, according to BDS Analytics. That spike drove up sales for April as a whole, from a record of $101 million in December to a new monthly record of $117 million.
Double the demand in Washington state
In Washington, marijuana sales on April 20 were double what they were in 2015, reaching $5.5 million for the day, according to Headset, a firm that tracks cannabis sales there. The company did not provide monthly sales figures for that state.
Two other states, Oregon and Alaska, allow marijuana for recreational use, as does the District of Columbia. California and several other states could join the list if they vote to legalize in November. Legalization has proved a huge success so far, providing a big economic boost and millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue.
April 20 is the unofficial holiday of potheads in the United States. Long used as an insider reference, it has more recently been co-opted by larger society.
The date refers to 4:20 p.m., the time of day when a group of California high school students met after sports practice every afternoon for several weeks in the 1970s. The boys were on a daily afternoon hunt for an abandoned cannabis plot in the San Rafael National Forest, and they started using “420” as code for that quest. They never found the marijuana, but the number made its way into the stoner lexicon, where it has become a mainstay.
Denver hosts largest 4/20 gathering
Colorado hosts the largest 4/20 gathering on the planet each year, though there are festivals scattered throughout the rest of the country. With or without local celebrations, though, it’s the obvious day for a jump in legal marijuana sales.
In Colorado, April also saw a 133 percent increase in sales of marijuana concentrates, which generated $27 million and now make up almost a quarter of all pot purchases, according to BDS Analytics. In Washington, daily sales of concentrates on April 20 were up 250 percent from average daily levels, Headset reported.
Hourly sales, meanwhile, were almost 140 percent above average in Washington on 4/20, with customers buying 70 percent more items per transaction. Not surprisingly, the best time of day for pot shops was about 4 p.m., shortly before the day’s festivities.
No one has estimated how much marijuana was sold elsewhere in the United States on April 20 – whether on the medical or black markets – but yearly sales on the legal recreational market are expected to reach $6.7 billion nationwide in 2016, up from $5.4 billion in 2015. Most Americans, 54 percent, support full legalization, while nearly 90 percent back medical cannabis, according to a recent poll.