In the first 10 months of 2016, Colorado marijuana shops reached a significant milestone they had barely missed in all of 2015: $1 billion in legal, regulated cannabis sales.
Recreational and medical cannabis shops in America’s first 420-legal state have sold nearly $1.1 billion of marijuana and related products in 2016, according to the new October data from the state’s Department of Revenue.
When 2015’s year-end marijuana tax data was finally released in February, calculations showed $996,184,788 in sales at Colorado marijuana shops that year.
Nearly $82.8 million of retail cannabis and more than $35 million of medical pot was peddled at Colorado shops in October 2016; The totals are down from September 2016, when marijuana sales hit an all-time high in Colorado — but October’s sales are cumulatively up year over year by more than 46 percent.
It is possible that 2016’s overall tax totals will amount to more than 2014 and 2015 tax totals combined.
Not accounting for licensing fees imposed on cannabis businesses, $63.4 million in marijuana taxes were collected by the state in 2014 along with another $120.6 million in 2015. Since 2016 taxes through October sit at $151.4 million, each of the year’s final two months would have to top $16.3 million apiece to best the two previous years’ totals combined.
Either way, it’s going to be close.
There are three different taxes on Colorado’s recreational cannabis — the standard 2.9 percent state sales tax, a special 10 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers, which is earmarked for school construction projects. The $6 million collected in October excise tax brings the yearly total to $49.7 million — already well over the $40 million mark, which was a point of discussion in 2012’s Amendment 64 campaign.
While the first $40 million will go toward school construction projects, any additional tax revenues from the excise tax will go directly to the state’s public school fund.
November’s tax data will be reported in January, and the December stats — along with 2016’s year-end totals — will be tabulated and released in February 2017.