Economic grow light still shining on Steamboat Springs marijuana industry | SteamboatToday.com

Economic grow light still shining on Steamboat Springs marijuana industry

— Marijuana is still a budding industry in Steamboat Springs.

City sales tax records show the industry sold about $10.8 million in product last year and added $431,113 to the sales tax coffers.

Medical and retail pot sales grew by 18 percent, or about $1.6 million, last year compared to 2015.

And the sales have come a long way since 2014, when $6.8 million of product was sold.

"I just still think Colorado is getting a lot of marijuana tourism," Steamboat Springs City Council President Walter Magill said Thursday. "Nobody is selling retail marijuana like Colorado is right now."

Magill predicted local sales would continue to grow through 2018 but might begin tapering off in 2019 and 2020.

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Indeed, officials have predicted that, while the new industry would see significant growth in the early years, it is bound to find a ceiling and trend more along the lines of overall sales tax growth or decline in the city.

Citywide, marijuana sales are still only a drop in the city’s sales tax bucket.

Pot sales last year accounted for about 1.8 percent of the $23.4 million in sales tax revenue the city collected.

By comparison, liquor store sales accounted for 3.6 percent of the sales tax pie last year.

August was the most lucrative month for the local marijuana industry in 2016, followed closely by July.

The city’s year end sales tax report is preliminary and could change slightly when final numbers are released later this month.

A large majority of the sales are on the retail side of the business.

Drew Koehler, who takes customers to Rocky Mountain Remedies in the free, cannabis-friendly Steamboat420 shuttle, said he has been seeing more passengers this winter compared to the prior year.

"It's definitely a solid mix of locals and visitors," Koehler said. "During the winter, we are transporting more visitors and providing that solution to people who don't want to drive in our lovely weather or who don't want to have to rent a car."

The city's elected officials, meanwhile, will consider adopting new rules for the marijuana industry.

Under the proposed changes, the city's dispensaries could remain open three hours later, until 10 p.m.

Magill also predicted the council would discuss possible changes to the zoning regulations as they apply to marijuana businesses.

Under current rules, it's almost impossible for any marijuana business to be located in the more heavily trafficked commercial centers in the city due to their proximities to parks.

Magill said after zoning for the facilities is addressed, he thinks the council could begin discussing whether the current cap on three retail marijuana licenses should be changed.

Some elected officials have expressed an interest in expanding the number of licenses.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10