Report: Colorado marijuana industry is already bigger than craft beer

Colorado’s marijuana industry generated a whopping $2.39 billion in 2015, according to the Marijuana Policy Group.

Pure Love CBD strain of cannabis at Simply Pure. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)marijuana; weed
Pure Love CBD strain of cannabis at Simply Pure. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite) marijuana; weed
Pure Love CBD strain of cannabis at Simply Pure. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Colorado’s marijuana industry generated a whopping $2.39 billion last year, according to a new report from the research collaborative The Marijuana Policy Group.

If the numbers are right, Colorado’s still budding cannabis industry is already worth more than the much-celebrated craft beer industry, the report officially released Wednesday shows.

Last year, Colorado’s small and independent beer makers generated $1.7 billion, according to a report released earlier this year by the Colorado Brewers Guild.

Marijuana tax revenues were three times larger than alcohol, and 14 percent larger than casino revenues in 2015, according to the new report.

Cannabis companies also boasted larger employment with 12,591 direct jobs in the industry in 2015 compared to 7,776 people working in craft beer.

Last year, cannabis sales totaled $996 million. By 2020, the Denver-based Marijuana Policy Group anticipates sales peaking around $1.52 billion with demand growing by 11.3 percent each year.

Those numbers could replace Colorado’s branding as the Napa Valley of Beer with a new nickname.

“As a first-mover in legal marijuana, the Front Range has witnessed significant business formation and industry agglomeration in marijuana technology (cultivation, sales, manufacturing, and testing). This has inspired a moniker for Colorado’s Front Range as the ‘Silicon Valley of Cannabis,'” the report says.

For the record, the Colorado Brewers Guild study looked only at the impact of craft brewers and brewpubs. Another study, by the national Brewers Association had a broader scope and put the economic impact of Colorado’s craft beer industry at $2.7 billion in 2014.

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Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia covers business and trends for Denverite. He's covered business for The Fort Collins Coloradoan and serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.