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420 with CNW — Slumping Marijuana Market in Colorado Triggers Industry Concern

In 2014, a Denver-based cannabis dispensary, 3D Cannabis, made history as the first seller of legal marijuana. Over a decade later, the dispensary bears a sign saying it is “temporarily closed,” with the building’s doors and windows boarded up and the parking lot strewn with trash, symbolizing the challenges facing Colorado’s marijuana market.

Once a thriving success, the industry is now marked by failed entities and struggling entrepreneurs due to regulatory challenges, market saturation and increased competition from neighboring states.

The market’s sales peaked in 2020 at $2.2 billion. But by 2023, revenues had fallen to $1.5 billion, which led to restructuring, closures and layoffs. The decrease has also affected state finances; in the most recent fiscal year, Colorado’s marijuana tax receipts dropped significantly to $282 million from prior years.

Several factors have contributed to the industry’s struggles. An oversupply of cannabis following the pandemic caused prices to drop sharply. The rise of cheap, unregulated hemp-derived products added further pressure. Additionally, the federal illegality of marijuana means operators face high taxes and costly rules.

However, the primary challenge has been the rapid spread of legalization across the country, with neighboring states such as Arizona and New Mexico now having their own legal cannabis markets and disrupting Colorado dispensaries, particularly those near the southern border. Tourists who previously flocked to Colorado for legal marijuana now have closer options, and even Texans are finding satisfying alternatives in hemp products available locally.

While some business owners have managed to survive by adapting, many have closed or moved to other states. The number of marijuana licenses in Colorado decreased by more than 16%, similar to the number of marijuana jobs, marking the second consecutive year of employment losses.

Maggie’s Farm, a retailer in southern Colorado, is one prominent example: out of its eight dispensaries, five are closed. Similarly, one of the biggest marijuana companies in the United States, Curaleaf, stated in January of last year that it was closing its cultivation and production facilities in Colorado.

In 2020, the pandemic helped the state’s cannabis industry at first since more people were staying at home and making more purchases, thanks to stimulus checks. However, as the pandemic’s dynamics shifted, the rush to expand cannabis production resulted in a glut of supply, causing prices to drop from nearly $1,700 a pound to about $700 a pound.

Companies such as Veritas Fine Marijuana, a wholesale grower, initially expanded their production but later had to downsize and change their cultivation methods to stay competitive. At its peak, Veritas employed 144 people; currently, it has only 21 employees.

Native Roots, another significant player, experienced similar challenges. Its Mothership growth facility in Denver used to produce around 32,000 pounds of cannabis annually but had to cut production by half by mid-2023. The company is cautiously increasing production again while closely monitoring market conditions. Native Roots benefits from having 21 dispensaries across the state, helping it weather the downturn better than some competitors.

Moreover, states compete on regulations, further complicating the market. New Mexico, for instance, allows adults to purchase up to two ounces of marijuana, double Colorado’s limit. Additionally, edibles in New Mexico can contain higher dosages. These higher limits attract residents from states without legal weed, who previously traveled to Colorado.

Despite the industry’s struggles, Colorado’s early legalization has produced successful entrepreneurs who have expanded beyond Colorado’s borders. Nancy Whiteman, for instance, founded Wana in 2010, focusing on marijuana-infused edibles. Wana has grown significantly, with operations in 17 states and Puerto Rico, and plans to enter the European market. Whiteman’s success culminated in a lucrative deal with Canopy Growth, a major Canadian cannabis producer valued at $350 million.

Major marijuana entities such as Tilray Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) (TSX: TLRY) could be assessing the changing market dynamics and planning their future strategic direction in order to remain at the top.

About CNW420

CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of an article each business day at 4:20 p.m. Eastern – a tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. The concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.

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