Cannabis prices can vary on the street, with many a stoner falling prey to dealers selling bags of reggie at extreme rates. But as pot legalization slowly sweeps the country, that price variation is taking on a different shape. No longer molded by individual whim, variation in pot prices is now largely determined by trackable supply and demand as well as state and local pot taxes.
Per a report from Flowhub, a Denver-based cannabis software firm, state and local sales taxes on legal pot has led to price deviations of up to 15 percent across legal markets in the U.S., with a $35 eighth amounting (with taxes) to $41.39 in Las Vegas, but $48.48 in Los Angeles. Here in Colorado, variation is more subdued, with tax differences between counties maxing out at 6.9 percent. Still, a working knowledge of those differences could lead to major savings for high-quantity consumers.
To find out which prominent Colorado and metro communities are taxing you for retail pot when it's all said and done, we crunched the numbers from Flowhub and local governments. See our findings below.
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Think of dispensary sales taxes like a layered cake: First the state lays down a universal tax. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, that's a 15 percent state retail marijuana sales tax for recreational purchases, and a 2.9 percent state sales tax for medical purchases. Medical is exempt from retail sales tax, and vice versa.
Next, local governments come in and decorate that cake even more, stacking their own taxes atop the state's. Some cities get ornate, while some keep it simple.
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Aurora opts for the former, supplementing state retail marijuana taxes with five of its own — an Arapahoe County sales tax, a city recreational marijuana sales tax, a city retail marijuana tax, a scientific and cultural facilities district sales tax and an RTD tax. In total, those taxes add up to 24 percent, which ties Boulder for the state's highest rate.
On the other end of the spectrum, Fort Collins adds to state taxes with only two of its own, including a Larimer County tax and a city sales tax. That adds up to a total of 19 percent, the state's lowest rate.