2017 Cannabis Sales Surpass Liquor Store Sales in Aspen

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In Aspen, Colorado people seem to prefer pot over Patron. In 2017, not only were legal cannabis sales up 16 percent from the year before, but also surpassed liquor sales in the famous ski town. This is the first time this has happened since marijuana became legal. 

Aspen Marijuana Stores Sell Almost $1 Million More than Liquor Stores

Numbers provided on Wednesday by Aspen’s Finance Department showed that last year’s legal cannabis sales totaled $11.3 million. Liquor stores in the city brought in $10.5 million. There are currently five liquor stores and six retail cannabis shops in Aspen.

It isn’t just in Aspen where booze sales are declining. Georgia State University released a study in December that highlighted a 15 percent decline in alcohol sales in states where medical marijuana was legal. The study looked at sales data from 2006-2015.

According to Alberto Chong, economics professor at Georgia State, “Our finding clearly show that these are strong substitutes in the marketplace. This implies that rather than exacerbating the consequences of alcohol consumption, such as increase of addiction, car accidents or disease risk, legalizing cannabis might temper them.”

Despite the decline in Aspen liquor sales, business owners don’t seem to be worried. In December, sales of beer, wine, and booze in Aspen reached $1.6 million. Definitely not a number that is causing any alarm.

“When (legal recreational) marijuana first came along, there were questions,” says one Aspen liquor store manager, “if it would hurt business. But obviously it hasn’t.”

At another Aspen liquor store, one employee was shocked to learn how much money pot was bringing in.

“It’s crazy that they’re even close,” says Carl’s Wine Cellar employee, Fritz Mawickie. “All of the sudden, pot is equal.”

Legal Cannabis Allows People to Explore Other Options

“I think its meaningful for a couple reasons,” says CannaInsider host Matt Kind of the study results. “One in particular is when people are visiting Aspen and adjusting to a high altitude, some don’t drink for that first couple of days. And I think people are looking for something different from alcohol, which is essentially poison, and marijuana is botanical. I don’t say that with judgment, but you feel some lingering effects with alcohol.”

Kevin Doxtater is an employee at Green Cannabis, a dispensary in Aspen. He says he isn’t surprised that pot sales surpassed those of alcohol. He believes people are “waking up” to the fact that cannabis is good for you. Doxtater also notes that more people are coming in interested in CBD, looking to medicate without getting high.

Store manager at Stash (another Aspen dispensary), Max Meredith says, “I think adults are open to change. There are new substitutions, and they can be handled responsibly. And perhaps,” he adds, “there are a few less late-night fights.”

While liquor sales in Aspen and other parts of the country aren’t likely to become a thing of the past in the future (or any time soon), the fact that cannabis topped liquor sales in this famous Colorado ski town highlights the momentum legal marijuana is making.

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Jen Keehn is a Colorado-based writer intent on inspiring others to live their best lives. She writes regularly about medical and recreational cannabis, holistic health, addiction, and psychedelic therapy.

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