Legal marijuana is a bona fide billion-dollar industry in Colorado. And it’s hitting the mark faster than ever.
In 2017, Colorado eclipsed $ 1 billion in marijuana sales in eight months; in 2016, it took 10 months.
Colorado’s marijuana retailers logged upward of $ 1.02 billion in collective medical and recreational sales through August, according to The Cannabist’s extrapolations of state tax data released Wednesday. Year-to-date sales are up 21 percent from the first eight months of 2016, when recreational and medical marijuana sales totaled $ 846.5 million.
This year’s cumulative sales equate to more than $ 162 million in taxes and fees for Colorado coffers.
During the month of August, sales of flower, edibles, concentrates and accessories were nearly $ 137 million — $ 100.3 million from recreational cannabis sales and $ 36.5 million from medical marijuana — according to The Cannabist’s calculations.
The Colorado Department of Revenue’s latest report lists marijuana taxes, licenses and fees remitted in September. The receipts largely reflect sales made in August but have the potential to vary because of incomplete or late returns from prior months.
The monthly tax data now comes with some additional stipulations. It’s the second full month in which marijuana sales have been subject to a different taxing structure, and the reports reflect a “period of transition,” DOR officials say.
The special sales tax rate for recreational marijuana increased to 15 percent from 10 percent in July, as the result of a new law that also exempted recreational marijuana products from the 2.9 percent standard state sales tax. Medical marijuana and accessories are still subject to that 2.9 percent sales tax rate.
The Cannabist’s calculations for July and August 2017 recreational sales are based on revenue reported for the new 15 percent sales tax.
Economists and state officials have projected that the annual growth rates for Colorado’s cannabis sales will eventually moderate as the local market matures and other states adopt recreational cannabis measures.