Colo. soaring Jan. pot sales yield $2.3M for schools

Medical and Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries

Dispatches from the Highlands

Marijuana news from contributing authors and staff writers on the latest in marijuana and medical marijuana

December 10, 2016
Denver, CO

Colorado pot businesses sold a record amount of marijuana in January, resulting in an excise tax of nearly $2.35 million designated for public schools, state officials said Wednesday. Based on the Colorado Department of Revenue data, around $36.4 million of recreational marijuana was sold this January, compared with about $14.69 million sold the same month last year.

State’s official 2014 report: Nearly 5 million marijuana-infused edibles and nearly 150,000 pounds of marijuana flower were purchased in legal Colorado stores and dispensaries in 2014, according to an encompassing new report published by the state.

“This is really what we expected and hope to see: a shift in the underground market to a regulated market,” said legalization advocate Mason Tvert. “It’s clearly generating significant revenue for the state.”

Tvert said that because most pot shops didn’t start opening until later in 2014, looking at sales numbers from this year to last might not be the best comparison. From here on out, he said he expects the amount of revenue to continue to grow, fluctuating with the ebb and flow of tourists.

Euflora, a recreational dispensary, opened on Denver’s 16th Street Mall in April.

Another Euflora location opened in Aurora in October, and a second Aurora store is opening next month.

In contrast to the statewide data, Euflora owner Jamie Perino said January was one of the 16th Street Mall location’s slowest months for sales but one of the Aurora store’s best.

She chalks the difference up to tourism.

“On any given day in our 16th Street Mall store, we get about 80 percent of tourist customers,” Perino said. “In Aurora, it’s about 80 percent repeat customers.”

The numbers, reported by the Colorado Department of Revenue, show that January’s school-designated pot excise tax is more than 10 times the amount in January 2014, when the state first collected the tax on wholesale marijuana transfers.

From December to January, the school tax sum jumped up about 21 percent, from about $1.97 million to nearly $2.35 million. In January 2014, the state collected $195,318 in taxes allotted for school construction capital.

In 2014, Colorado collected about $44 million in revenue from voter-approved special marijuana taxes — below the $70 million that had been expected.

“Tax revenue is really a bonus,” Tvert said. “The real benefit of these laws is that it’s taking marijuana sales out of the underground market and ensuring the product is controlled.”

In January 2014, medical marijuana sales were higher than in January 2015, with sales decreasing from about $32.21 million to around $28 million this year.

Last year — the first year of legal recreational pot sales — Colorado pot businesses sold nearly $700 million of marijuana. That amounted to $385.9 million for medical marijuana and $313.2 million for recreational cannabis.

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