Pot-Tax Holiday: "Not Quite 4/20, but Definitely Better Than Christmas in July"

Even at 2 p.m., the waiting room at Sweet Leaf was full of customers looking to take advantage of the state's tax-holiday on retail marijuana.
Even at 2 p.m., the waiting room at Sweet Leaf was full of customers looking to take advantage of the state's tax-holiday on retail marijuana.

Colorado's tax holiday on retail marijuana provided full waiting rooms and plenty of customers, but most of the action was taking place in growing operations months before.

The one-day tax break, a product of Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights, saved customers the cost of the 10 percent state sales tax. Even more enticing for retail pot businesses, however, was the break from a 15 percent excise fee charged when marijuana is moved from cultivations to stores.

"We can't fit anything in the safe right now," said Mya Boisvert, district retail manager of the Grass Station. "We had one of the biggest deliveries we've ever had today."

One day without the excise tax is estimated to save retail pot businesses $300 per pound — and cost Colorado $3.6 million. This last figure is based on a state fiscal analysis, which presumed that marijuana cultivations would transfer three months' worth of marijuana yesterday, rather than sticking with the usual once-a-month schedule used by most cannabis businesses. By comparison, the same analysis predicted the lapse in sales tax would cost the state in the six-figure range.

Some dispensaries saw the tax break as an opportunity to pump up promotions. The Grass Station was offering 50 percent off all purchases before 9:16 a.m. at both of its Denver locations, and Starbuds and Native Roots put on some steep sales of their own. "We had a line waiting outside at 7 a.m. today, and we open at 8," Boisvert said. "There were instances of $1,000 purchases cut to $500."

Boisvert also said both shops had cleared almost 400 customers combined before 2 p.m. hit.

Others simply braced for the rush while maintaining the same prices, and that seemed to work fine for LivWell and Sweet Leaf. Both pot shops had lines out the door at several locations, and LivWell, which operates four retail dispensaries in the state, reported an 85 percent increase in overall sales and a 60 percent increase in customers.

"It's been a crazy, crazy day. People love their pot.," one LivWell employee said during his break. "Not quite 4/20, but definitely better than Christmas in July."

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