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Colorado marijuana sales projected to hit $1.5 billion

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PUEBLO –

Marijuana sales in Colorado grew by 93 percent last year and are expected to keep climbing. A report from the cannabis data analytics company New Frontier projects total medical and recreational marijuana sales will surpass $1.5 billion in 2016.

John Kagia, Director of Industry Analytics for New Frontier, said the state’s population growth and strong demand from marijuana tourists contributed to the growth.

“It reflects just how strong of a demand for adult use marijuana has been in the state,” Kagia said.

Soaring sales are putting pressure on marijuana growers and sellers to hire more people, particularly during the summer months when demand peaks.

Michael Lemon, head budtender at The Spot in Pueblo West, said working in the marijuana industry has been a godsend.

“I grew up in Colorado, moved to Pueblo several years ago following my wife she got a job down here and the marijuana industry is really the first industry that really threw me a life line.”

He says hundred more people want to follow his career path. As many as five people a day visit The Spot looking for work.

“A lot of us are long time Colorado locals, but we also have a lot of people who moved here from out of state to work in legal marijuana.”

Pueblo-based Grasshopper Staffing, which caters to the marijuana industry, receives many resumes from applicants living out of state.

“We looked at last week’s resumes that came through our website and 80 percent of them were from out of state,” said co-founder Melanie Osterman. “The ones walking through the door, the majority of them are from Pueblo.”

The firm helped 142 job seekers find work last year.

The overall size of Colorado’s marijuana labor force is difficult to accurately measure.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific category for marijuana jobs in the current North American Industrial Classification System.  However, their Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages lists some 4,212 employees in Colorado who work the four fields where such jobs are most likely recorded.

However, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division reported approximately 26,000 employment licenses were issued between January 2014 and December 2015. Not all of those licenses are still active.

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