A really big hit

A really big hit

In case you haven’t noticed, the local legal marijuana industry has been growing like a weed. But lest you think we’re blowing smoke, consider a new report compiled by Local First, along with several La Plata County weed-related businesses. 

According to the study released this week, in 2016 (2017 numbers were not yet available), $27.7 million worth of legal marijuana was sold in La Plata County, translating to $37 million in economic output, an estimated 351 jobs and $14.8 million in labor income.

The study was compiled by a third-party consultant, Donna Graves, of Information Services Inc., who has conducted similar economic studies in the region. It was funded in part by several local cannabis businesses.

In addition to compiling economic impacts from 2016, the study also looked at sales tax generated through legal pot sales from 2015-17. Each year, sales tax from pot sales have steadily climbed to total more than $4.6 million. Permits and other licensing fees brought in an additional $658,000 to county and city coffers in the same three-year period.

“Local First is pleased to share the results of this study with the business community and decision makers so that we can better understand the economic contributions of the cannabis industry in La Plata County,” Local First Chair Tim Wheeler said in a news release. “The cannabis industry truly represents a homegrown industry with no economic leakage across state lines, thereby optimizing economic return in our community.”

Statewide, the economic impact was even bigger. According to the study, between January 2014 – when recreational marijuana stores first opened in Colorado – and December 2017, legal marijuana sales in Colorado hit $4.5 billion, with sales tax revenues of just under $640 million.

This study was a first step in quantifying the economic impacts of the cannabis industry in La Plata County, according to Local First. Additional work is still needed to understand more about the budding industry as well as steps local governments can take to provide a conducive business environment.

“Cannabis related businesses in La Plata County are an integral part of the community – not only do we provide support to the economy, especially in hard times like this winter we also give back to the community whenever we can,” Jonny Radding, founder and co-owner of Durango Organics, said.

The study was co-sponsored by Durango Organics, Aurum Labs, The Greenery, Durango Cannabis Co., Sweet CO2 Oil, Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center, and Sante.

The full report can be found online at www.local-first.org under the “Resources” tab.