Marijuana Tops Liquor Sales For First Time In Aspen

Marijuana shops in Aspen raked in the green in 2017, topping liquor sales with $11.3 million in revenue vs. $10.5 million of alcohol in the Colorado resort town home to just under 7,000 residents, and tens of thousands of tourists who are more mellow than ever.

The figures, provided Wednesday in the city's Finance Department year-end tax sales report for 2017, show Aspen retailers taking in a combined $730.4 million in revenue, up slightly over 2016. 

Marijuana sales jumped 16% over 2016, which saw $9.7 million in sales - marking the largest increase among Aspen's 12 retail sectors. Meanwhile, liquor store sales were flat year-over-year. 

"I think it's meaningful for a couple of reasons," said Matt Kind, a Boulder entrepreneur and host of the CannaInsider podcast. "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." -Aspen Times

Aspen has six pot shops and five liquor stores, though one of the dispensaries closed last fall. 

“I think it shows adults are open to change,” said Max Meredith, store manager at the Stash dispensary. “There are new substitutes, and they can be handled responsibly. And perhaps there are a few less late-night fights.”

Despite fears that the cannabis industry would cannibalize alcohol sales, Aspen's liquor stores are doing just fine - beating marijuana sales in December with nearly $1.6 million in sales vs. $1.2 million for pot. 

When (legalized recreational marijuana) first came along, there were questions if it would hurt business,” Tom Ressel, day manager of the Local Spirits liquor store tells Summit Daily. “But obviously it hasn’t.”

While that may be the case for Aspen - a study by Georgia State University Economics Professor, Alberto Chong, finds a 15 percent drop in alcohol sales which also allow medical marijuana sales over a 10 year period ending in 2015. 

The study analyzed beer, wine and alcohol sales for over 2,000 U.S. counties using the Nielson Retail Scanner database, which they note provides a more accurate measure of alcohol consumption than self-reported surveys.

“Our findings clearly show that these two substances act as strong substitutes in the marketplace,” Chong said, adding “This implies that rather than exacerbating the consequences of alcohol consumption—such as an increase in addiction, car accidents or disease risk—legalizing cannabis may temper them.”

At the Green Dragon cannabis store, manager Kevin Doxtater said the latest sales tax figures show “people are waking up to this.” He and his co-workers added that cannabidiol — more widely referred to as CBD — has attracted a newer wave of retail consumers seeking medical benefits without getting high. Edible marijuana products also have been popular with the more discerning adults, while the younger set leans toward pre-rolled joints, he said. -Summit Daily

See below for a breakdown of Aspen’s $730.4 million in retail sales last year

  • Accommodations $216.7 million
  • Restaurants & Bars $129.7 million
  • Clothing $57.3 million
  • Construction $57.2 million 
  • Food & Drug $56.1 million 
  • Miscellaneous $50 million 
  • Sports Equip/Clothing $47.9 million
  • Utilities $43.4 million
  • Luxury Goods $29.4 million
  • Automobile $20.8 million 
  • Marijuana $11.3 million 
  • Liquor $10.5 million
  • Total $730,414,351 

Source: City of Aspen Finance Department


Laowei Gweilo northern vigor Sat, 02/10/2018 - 00:38 Permalink

this OP article is why I'm long Canadian cannabis companies (and I'm going to try say this without sounding like a shill ... which I hate and would never do on ZH .... the point is less about the companies and more social and consumer commentary)

a bunch of idiots say, 'oh everyone who smokes week already does' or 'oh no one is gonna buy at $10/gram when they can buy off the black market for $7 (CND avg.).

right.... and demand and volume of alcohol ALSO didn't change after prohibition ended -_-

and right, as if average joe ALSO didn't associate any premium with being able to legally, comfortably, and conveniently buy in a regulated liquor store rather than fentanyl frank on e hastings or crackhead corey over at robson square

COL is good example that if you make weed legal, a lot more people may be willing to toke up and relax once and a while. it's not the riser of stones but the rise of, hey, a small toke instead of a small canadian rye with ice may be a nice way to end the day.

p.s. did Tylers just bold that scholar's name cuz it's Chong (as in Cheech) lol =p

In reply to by northern vigor

Global Douche venturen Sun, 02/11/2018 - 02:31 Permalink

What you're not seeing is that it isn't affecting Aspen so much. Colorado Springs, where only medical pot can be sold (you get the rec stuff in neighboring Teller County) is getting more homeless and they cause big problems in the crap areas of downtown. I've seen it myself! Two years back, a store manager of an auto parts place running after a junkie twenty-something for a petty theft downtown on Seventh. They don't even want to call police, so I did for them. It took a half-hour for cops to come down. Locals told me how El Paso County has grown so much that the law hasn't grown to keep pace, causing this to escalate. Another party decided to confront the punk who ran down a block or so. Some of these scum have nothing to lose. What brings them in? The social services are all in this part of "the Springs" as locals call it. I got bored with the nonsense and walked across to a seafood place to get dinner. Since then, I try to avoid staying in hotels in that shitty part of CoS.

In reply to by venturen

sgorem holdbuysell Fri, 02/09/2018 - 22:29 Permalink

that's NOT a bit Funny, ShitHole of the World(?)! I lost a ball @ Aspen, PLUS: Broken Clavicle, Severe Brain Trauma, when they dug me outta the snow, i had my right foot in my mouth, and my HEAD up my ass......any questions, please email them at, or if you've paid your cell/land line com. bill, contact them @ Ou812.muff. Sponsored by

In reply to by holdbuysell

SixIsNinE Fri, 02/09/2018 - 22:11 Permalink

Praise God Hallelujah!

world's most beneficial plant being recognized.

Fuel. Medicine. Recreation. Shelter & Clothing. Food.

we're just beginning to tap the wonders of this plant.


venturen BarkingCat Fri, 02/09/2018 - 23:31 Permalink

Your BRAIN...when you have people like But Woody Harrelson, 55, has now revealed that he gave up smoking pot, almost a year ago, after realizing that the habit was holding him back. 

Paul McCartney and Mark Wahlberg both gave up smoking cannabis, citing family as their motivation. 

Paul McCartney Replacing Cannabis with Alcohol to “Set an Example” for His Grandkids

Neil Young enjoyed the green herb for nearly 40 years during his career, but after suffering a stroke in 2005, he quit drinking and smoking any mind-altering substances for his health. “I did it for 40 years,” the singer told the New York Times. “Now I want to see what it’s like to not do it. It’s just a different perspective.”

CeeLo Green quit using cannabis in 2010 after he experienced a bad cannabis-induced anxiety attack. “I never got comfortable with it again,” he said.

Mark Foster of the band Foster the People quit smoking cannabis, but when he met Snoop Dogg, he told him, “I quit smoking, but I’d have a blunt with you now if I had the chance.” Surprisingly, Snoop reinforced his decision, saying, “You know what, brother, sometimes you gotta slow down and focus on your shit.”

In reply to by BarkingCat

Blankone venturen Sat, 02/10/2018 - 00:19 Permalink

Over use of any substance or activity or hobby can hold you back. Be it grass, cake, sodas, surfing, porn etc.. Same for taking away from family time.

But lets compare. Compare the musicians, teen idols, stars, sports figures who used too much grass to those who used too much booze. Plenty were ruined by booze beyond repair - or died. At least those who overused cannabis were able to continue a healthy life when they quit. The hard users of alcohol suffered health problems even once they stopped.

I try to educate people what professional addiction counselors/treatment people will tell you - they have greater success turning around a heroin addict than they do an alcoholic. One nodded towards a group of alcoholics and told a friend, only 5% might make it to sobriety. Her husband dried out several times but it never took, then it killed him.

In reply to by venturen

Kagemusho Justin Case Sat, 02/10/2018 - 15:36 Permalink

That was Zhang's study you are referring to, not Tashkin's. Tashkin was not satisfied with Zhang's wishy-washy theorizing (i.e. 'potential malignant changes instead of definite malignant changes) and conducted his own study, in which he learned that Zhang was wrong on almost every point.

Zhang Study Epidemiologic review of marijuana use and cancer risk.

Tashkin Study Effects of marijuana smoking on the lung.

From the latter study:

Regular smoking of marijuana by itself causes visible and microscopic injury to the large airways that is consistently associated with an increased likelihood of symptoms of chronic bronchitis that subside after cessation of use. On the other hand, habitual use of marijuana alone does not appear to lead to significant abnormalities in lung function when assessed either cross-sectionally or longitudinally, except for possible increases in lung volumes and modest increases in airway resistance of unclear clinical significance. Therefore, no clear link to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has been established. Although marijuana smoke contains a number of carcinogens and cocarcinogens, findings from a limited number of well-designed epidemiological studies do not suggest an increased risk for the development of either lung or upper airway cancer from light or moderate use, although evidence is mixed concerning possible carcinogenic risks of heavy, long-term use. Although regular marijuana smoking leads to bronchial epithelial ciliary loss and impairs the microbicidal function of alveolar macrophages, evidence is inconclusive regarding possible associated risks for lower respiratory tract infection. Several case reports have implicated marijuana smoking as an etiologic factor in pneumothorax/pneumomediastinum and bullous lung disease, although evidence of a possible causal link from epidemiologic studies is lacking. In summary, the accumulated weight of evidence implies far lower risks for pulmonary complications of even regular heavy use of marijuana compared with the grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco.

Another attempt by a prohibitionist to obfuscate and misrepresent the facts. All prohibs know how to do is lie.

In reply to by Justin Case