California began commercial sales of recreational cannabis on January 1st, so how much did people buy?
Figuring out number is much trickier than in Colorado or Washington. Those states mandated track and trace systems from day one, so chasing down gross receipts total only took a few computer clicks by a regulator. But here in California, we’re starting without such a system. So we’ll have to estimate.
We estimate about 69,300 customers bought legal cannabis on Launch Day in California, leading to about $5.2 million in gross sales.
How did we arrive at that number?
How Many Retailers?
First off, Bureau of Cannabis Control data tells us there were 99 retailers licensed to sell cannabis to all adults on New Year’s Day.
We reached out to many of them as well as folks who analyze cannabis business data for a living. Many of the nation’s leading dispensaries responded, and from that data pool, we can draw some insights.
How Many Customers?
First off. There where a lot of people. Any dispensary that had a permit and was in a major city likely saw close to 1,000 people on day one. The biggest dispensaries beat that number, but generally, turnout was good.
One medium-sized dispensary told us they saw a bump of roughly 150 people from the same day last year. Another dispensary told us they saw 250% more sales than an average day in 2017.
How Much Did They Spend?
As for how much they spent, Southern California seems to have spent more. One dispensary south of Los Angeles told us the average spent by their customers was nearly $100 dollars.
Generally, the further you moved north into more competitive markets, that average dropped, likely thanks to the discounts shops used to get folks in their doors.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we saw average sales that were remarkably similar. Most of the retailers we spoke with said the average spent was about $80-$85 dollars.
So on the high end of the scale, if every licensee saw 1,000 customers that spent roughly the same amount of money as their peers in the Bay, California might have sold roughly $8.7 million in cannabis on day one of legal sales.
In reality, the state average was a bit closer to 700 customers. At the Bay Area average sale price of around $80, you would be looking at a total of about $6.1 million in day one gross sales.
Berkeley Patients Group has now seen legalization launches in two states, Chief Operating Officer Sean Luse, who also serves on the California Cannabis Industry Association board, gave us their takeaways.
“Very similar to Nevada launches, big crowds, very festive and celebratory, lines wrapping around the building, many new, novice consumers,” said Luse, “Only difference I think is California medical market was already so big that this launch doesn’t represent as much of a market expansion.”
Here’s our raw data. We’ll add to this post as we hear more.
If 99 retailers saw an average of x 700 people x spending $75:
— California had 69,300 day one customers
— California total day one gross sales equalled $5.2 million.
Number of licensed adult use retailers in California on Day 1 – 99. (Source: Bureau of Cannabis Control)
|Name of retailer||# of Day 1 customers||ave. spend ($)|
|Harborside San Jose||560||$N/A|
* Redacted data is known to GreenState, but specifics are masked from public view upon request of the dispensary