In the wake of Amendment 64's passage, some officials worried marijuana sales tax revenues wouldn't pay for needed regulation. But at least in month one, such concerns proved to be unfounded.
The retail pot sales launch resulted in a gusher of cash, with more than $3.5 million in tax revenues collected statewide. Moreover, those counties that embraced the industry, as opposed to banning it, have been rewarded with oodles of moolah, too -- none more so than Denver County, which has generated nearly $1 million.
We've included three Colorado Department of Revenue documents below in their entirety. But let's start with a graphic that summarizes the January findings. Note that the $3,519,756 total includes revenue from assorted retail marijuana revenue sources -- a 15 percent excise tax, a 10 percent special sales tax, the standard 2.9 percent sales tax and retail fees -- in addition to monies from the 2.9 percent medical marijuana sales tax and MMJ fees.
Next, here's a graphic that further breaks down the total. Note that nearly $200,000 has already been earmarked for capital construction of schools.
The amount collected by county thanks to the 2.9 percent retail marijuana sales tax, supplemented by the extra 10 percent special tax, gives an indication of how the Mile High City currently dominates the pot industry landscape. Of the $1,608,224 total represented in the following graphic, well over half -- $985,407 -- came from Denver County:
No wonder Denver received the single largest distribution of revenues to date -- $128,586 of $210,269 -- as depicted in this graphic:
In a statement accompanying the release of this information, Barbara Brohl, executive director of the state revenue department, studiously avoids a whoopee! response. "The first month of sales for recreational marijuana fell in line with expectations," she's quoted as saying. She adds, "We expect clear revenue patterns will emerge by April and plan to incorporate this data into future forecasts."
The last part of this statement is prudent. We won't know for another few months if the numbers for January will reflect demand for marijuana over the long haul. Future revenues could be lower if the original excitement over retail marijuana sales proves ephemeral. But they could be go up, too. After all, the DOR's original projections called for forty businesses to be operating on January 1, the first day they could legally do so, but only 24 won approval on time. And while 59 businesses had filed a return by the end of January, more are coming on line every week, as reflected by our roster of recreational marijuana shops licensed by Denver thus far.
On January 1, there were eighteen. On February 4, there were 37. On February 27, there were 47. And the end's nowhere in sight.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Marijuana archive circa February 27: "Photos: See all 47 recreational marijuana shops Denver has licensed so far."