Pueblo West’s The Spot 420 recreational marijuana dispensary is open for now, but it and four grow operations in Pueblo County are slated to be closed as part of Curaleaf’s exit from Colorado, a move that will cost 47 local workers their jobs.
The closing does not affect The Spot 420 dispensary at 3504 N. Elizabeth in Pueblo.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, along with Pueblo County Commission Chair Garrison Ortiz and Pueblo West Metro District Board President Kim Swearingen all were notified of the impending closures as part of a state-mandated Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice issued Jan. 26 by Curaleaf.
The letter indicates locations that are closing include The Spot 420 dispensary at 748 E. Industrial Blvd. in Pueblo West, along with a grow operation at 129 E. Enterprise in Pueblo West and additional grow sites at 920 38th Lane and 127 S. Nielson Ave. in Pueblo, and 46795 E. Colorado Highway 96 in Avondale.
The Avondale site has been known as Los Suenos Farms LLC and was billed as Colorado’s largest outdoor marijuana grow when the 36-acre farm sold to Curaleaf in May 2021.
In a statement announcing Curaleaf’s exit from Colorado, California and Oregon, CEO Matt Darin said: “Today’s announcement reflects a decision that we did not arrive at lightly, and one that makes sense for our business at this time. We have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to improve margins and fortify our balance sheet by controlling what we can in our business.”
“We believe these states will represent opportunities in the future, but the current price compression caused by a lack of meaningful enforcement of the illicit market prevent us from generating an acceptable return on our investment,” Darin’s statement reads.
According to the letter penned by Curaleaf Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for Labor & Employment Cristina Nutzman, the decision to cease operations in Pueblo County is due to “changes in economic circumstances that resulted in the need to permanently cease all operations at the sites.”
Nutzman indicates 37 workers will be laid off by March 26 and another 10 workers will be laid off by June 16.
Colorado marijunana sales and excise tax revenues are dropping
The Colorado Department of Revenue reports that Pueblo County’s total marijuana sales have dropped from $12 million in 2021 to $7.2 million in the first 11 months of 2022.
According to Pueblo County Budget and Finance Director Ashley Huggins, marijuana sales tax revenues also are trending downward in Pueblo County. The county collects a 3.5% sales tax on all legal marijuana sales in the county.
In 2021, Pueblo County took in $3.5 million in marijuana sales taxes, so the county projected it would receive about $3.3 million in 2022. However, actual sales tax revenues are projected to be $2.7 million.
In the Pueblo West Metro District, marijuana excise tax revenues which are collected from grow operations within the district brought in $788,000 in 2021, but unaudited figures for 2022 show the tax will bring in about $415,000, said spokesperson Anthony Sandstorm.
“The 2022 figure will go higher as we continue to record 2022 revenue for the first 60 days of 2023,” Sandstrom explained.
City of Pueblo retail marijuana sales tax revenues also trended downward for the first 11 months of 2022 when compared with 2021. The highest drop of 35% came in May, when the sales tax generated just $60,093 compared with $93,270 in May of 2021.
The smallest drop of 17% was recorded in October 2022, when $57,655 was collected as compared with $69,802 in October of 2021.
Pueblo also collects a tax on cultivation of marijuana and those figures are down between 70% and 89% between 2022 and 2021. For example, cultivation brought in just $8,526 in taxes in November 2022 compared to $53,489 in November 2021.
The state also is reporting a downward trend on marijuana sales with revenues dropping from a total of $153.9 million in sales statewide in July 2022 to $130.3 million in November of 2022.
The Chieftain reached out to Curaleaf’s national office in New York and the Pueblo West dispensary seeking comment but did not receive responses.