Colorado Marijuana Tax Revenue Breaks Annual Record

Colorado Marijuana Tax Revenue Breaks Annual Record
Jacqueline Collins
Colorado's annual marijuana tax revenue haul has already reached a new high for the seventh straight year, according to the latest data from the state Department of Revenue.

The DOR's latest monthly report on marijuana tax revenue shows that November's $32.5 million in combined marijuana taxes and fees pushed 2021's overall total past $392.8 million. That's nearly $5.4 million more than the previous record, made in 2020 — with one month left to spare.

Colorado collects four different forms of marijuana taxes and licensing fees from the legal marijuana industry: a 15 percent tax on recreational pot sales, a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana, a 2.9 percent sales tax on recreational and medical marijuana purchases, and various licensing and application fees that state-approved marijuana businesses must pay.

According to DOR records, this year's averages in each of the four marijuana tax and fee categories are higher than those in 2020. But despite 2021 already being the highest year yet for pot tax revenue, the state hasn't passed last year's sales figures, judging from DOR data.

So far, the DOR has only released dispensary sales figures through the month of October; they total just over $1.9 billion. After calculating sales amounts based on marijuana tax rates and November's reported tax revenue, sales figures for the first eleven months of 2021 should approach $2.075 billion.

In 2020, Colorado dispensaries sold just over $2.19 billion, and this December's sales figures are virtually guaranteed to put 2021 over that mark. Dispensaries grossed over $186.3 million in sales in December 2020, according to the DOR, and sales of just around $120 million would break 2020's record.

Since Colorado recreational marijuana sales began in 2014, the state has collected over $1.98 billion in tax revenue, not counting taxes and fees levied at local levels.

While Colorado's marijuana industry is poised to celebrate another record year in 2021, monthly dispensary sales continued to dip on an annual basis this fall. October's $176.4 million in overall dispensary sales was about 12 percent less than the same month last year, according to the DOR — the fifth straight month in which 2021's monthly totals came in lower than last year's.
Colorado Department of Revenue
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell