Online Marijuana Sales Proposed As Workforce In Colorado's Cannabis Industry Dwindles

According to a report from Vangst, a marijuana industry recruitment firm, Colorado's marijuana workforce decreased by 28% in the last year, with nearly 10,500 jobs lost.

This decline has caused Colorado to drop from second to sixth place in marijuana industry employment by state. While every state in the top five saw employment growth from 2022 to 2023, Colorado was hit particularly hard and is now behind California, Michigan, Illinois, Florida and Massachusetts.

Dispensary sales in Colorado have been slow to recover after a 21% drop from 2021 to 2022. In January 2023, sales were nearly 15% lower than the same month last year and over 30% lower than sales in January 2021.

Online Marijuana Sales On The Table For Colorado Dispensaries

Despite being able to accept pre-orders, Colorado's marijuana dispensaries still mostly rely on cash transactions as banks are reluctant to provide credit and debit sales systems due to federal prohibitions.

Liz Zukowski of Native Roots, one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains, supports House Bill 23-1279, which would permit dispensaries and marijuana delivery services to accept online payments through pre-orders. While customers would still have to show identification when picking up their purchase, the bill would bring Colorado in line with a handful of other states that allow online cannabis sales.

"The most obvious reason is that we are in 2023, and customers want to be able to have access to e-commerce solutions. The cannabis industry has been held back from that," Zukowski told Westword. "And whatever we can do to lessen that reliance on cash would limit the risk of burglaries and robberies."

The first hearing for House Bill 23-1279 before the House Finance Committee was postponed to April 13 to allow sponsors to file amendments.

The proposed amendments include the addition of warning labels or announcements at dispensaries about the health risks of consuming marijuana while pregnant and the potential dangers of THC extracts to mental health. Despite potential opposition to the bill, Zukowski said there is a broad coalition of supporters.

Photo by Kyle Cesmat on Unsplash

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