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Study: Folks in Colo. Are Buying Tons of Pot, Literally

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

As Colorado has been selling legal pot to the general public for more than six months now, a new government study has found that residents and visitors alike are smoking tons of pot.

Not figurative tons. Actual metric tons. According to The Associated Press, the Centennial State's market demand for legal weed is about 130 metric tons a year. And most of that demand is coming from residents, not tourists.

So how does Colorado's craving for cannabis add up?

Demand, Market Rate Remain Rocky Mountain High

The Colorado pot study, prepared for the Colorado Department of Revenue, looked at surveys as well as sales figures to get a comprehensive look at how marijuana is impacting Colorado's markets.

Although recreational marijuana has been available in the state since January 1, the study only took into account the first three months of sales in 2014. The rest of the analysis was based on survey data, some covering times when legal recreational marijuana was not available.

The average market rate for marijuana was reported to be $220 per ounce, or about $7.75 per gram. The study found that price fluctuated most when dealing with small servings, with the same gram of green going for twice as much in resort towns than in Denver. This seems to suggest that pot tourism is alive and kicking in Colorado.

However, the study found that visitors account for only 44 percent of recreational marijuana traffic in the Denver area, as opposed to 90 percent in vacation spots. Accounting for medical and recreational marijuana, state residents are estimated to demand 121 metric tons of marijuana per year; the demand from visitors amounts to about 9 metric tons per year.

Most Demand for Heavy Users

Abating worries that legalization would infect Colorado with "reefer madness," more than half of the state's pot users were reported to only use marijuana five times or less in a month. These casual users only made up 3.6 percent of the market demand for weed in Colorado.

Meantime, those who reported using pot the most (about every day) made up 66.9 percent of the demand, but only about one-fifth the pot users in the state.

The study suggests that many of these heavy users are a part of the state's existing medical marijuana system. These users are unlikely to convert to retail stores -- thus boosting state tax revenues -- until the price drops and/or more jurisdictions offer retail marijuana.

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