Per capita sales in newer markets like Illinois and Michigan increased year-over-year by over 50%, while older adult use markets like California and Colorado saw decreases. Per capita sales are commonly used to measure normalization of cannabis use and adoption as acceptance increases over time.

Over the past year, Colorado’s lowest monthly per capita sales is still more than double than Illinois’, California’s, and Michigan’s highest months. Colorado’s cannabis industry is fifteen years older than Illinois’ and eight years older than Michigan’s.

Colorado reached a high of $45.90 of cannabis sales per capita in March 2021. The per capita use for Feb. 2021 was $37.04, the lowest month for the state, though it’s worth noting February has fewer days, just 28. 

As a note, this analysis considers populations over the age of 18, not 21, as the U.S. Census does not provide that data. 

The year-to-year change for Colorado, starting Sept. 2020, is a 12% decrease.

[View per capita spending per month since September 2020.]

In 2020, Colorado saw over $2.1 billion in total cannabis sales, according to the state’s Department of Revenue. 

Nineteen percent of Coloradans said they used marijuana at least once in the past month, according to a 2019 Colorado Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and Child Health Survey, the latest report available. Among these users, 48% consumed marijuana daily or almost daily; 31% on a weekly basis; 20% on a monthly basis. 

Colorado legalized medical use of cannabis in 2000 and adult use in 2012. In 2019, adult-use cannabis outpaced medical marijuana, in terms of volume sold to consumers, according to a 2020 report by the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Per capita use in Illinois, which first began selling adult-use cannabis in January 2020, is growing, despite a supercase lawsuit on the state’s license lottery system holding up 185 new dispensary licenses in court. 

Its year-over-year per capita spending increased from $9.94 in Sept. 2020 to $15.45 in Sept. 2021, a 55% increase, showing that cannabis use stigma in the state could be decreasing as retail sales continue to rise. 

Illinois passed the $1 billion mark for legal cannabis sales in 2021 in August, and its highest per capita spending was in July 2021, when it hit $16.26. That’s the same month that the state passed HB1443, which removed a requirement that patients designate one dispensary at a time, allowing patients to purchase at any dispensary. 

Michigan saw a 52% increase in per capita spending from Sept. 2020 to Sept. 2021, slightly lower than Colorado and Illinois. But its average year-to-year per capita spending is $16.63, higher than Illinois and California. Its retail sales continue to rise as well.

This analysis only includes figures up to September 2020, the latest month all of the states had. It does not reflect the effects of a recall involving laboratory Viridis.

In October, Andrew Brisbo, executive director of the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency, said while medical flower prices dropped 24% and adult use dropped 44%, overall monthly flower sales were up 49% in the medical market and 223% in the adult use market since January 2021

Michigan legalized medical marijuana sales in 2008 and adult-use cannabis sales began in 2019.

Year-over-year, California saw a 1% decrease in its per capita sales, which was on average $13.95. The low per capita spending could be attributed to low pricing because of an oversupply of outdoor and greenhouse cannabis that could last years. 

California legalized medical marijuana sales in 1996 and adult-use cannabis sales in 2016.

“The pandemic boosted demand a year ago, especially in western states,” said Alan Brochstein, a CFA and founder at New Cannabis Ventures. “Also, there are seasonal trends, especially as it relates to tourism.”

The low pricing might also be linked to the states’ unregulated cannabis sales, which may comprise about 65 to 75 percent of the market. Underground dealers have the advantage of lower prices and a fluid supply chain.

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Cynthia Fernandez is a data reporter for Grown In. Previously, she was a politics reporter for Spotlight PA, a nonpartisan newsroom based in Harrisburg and reported at the Boston Globe. In 2019 she graduated...