Pot reaches bil­lion-dol­lar mark

Colorado mar­i­juana shops hit mile­stone in first 10 months of the year.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Ri­cardo Baca

In the first 10 months of 2016, Colorado mar­i­juana shops reached a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone they had barely missed in all of 2015: $1 bil­lion in le­gal, reg­u­lated cannabis sales.

Recre­ational and med­i­cal cannabis shops in Amer­ica’s first 420le­gal state have sold nearly $1.1 bil­lion of mar­i­juana and re­lated prod­ucts in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the new Oc­to­ber data from the state’s Depart­ment of Rev­enue.

When 2015’s year-end mar­i­juana tax data was fi­nally re­leased in Fe­bru­ary, cal­cu­la­tions showed $996,184,788 in sales at Colorado mar­i­juana shops that year — spurring a lead­ing in­dus­try at­tor­ney to say at the time, “I think it’s eth­i­cal to round that up to a bil­lion.”

That same lawyer, Vi­cente Seder­berg part­ner Chris­tian Seder­berg, cel­e­brated the bil­lion-dol­lar news on Mon­day by also point­ing to the Colorado cannabis in­dus­try’s in­creas­ing eco­nomic im­pact and sky­rock­et­ing tax rev­enues for the state as well as nu­mer­ous cities and coun­ties through­out Colorado.

“We think we’ll see $1.3 bil­lion in sales rev­enue this year,” Seder­berg said, “and so the eco­nomic im­pact of this in­dus­try — if we’re us­ing the same mul­ti­plier from the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Group’s re­cent re­port, which is to­tally rea­son­able — it sud­denly eclipses a $3 bil­lion eco­nomic im­pact for 2016.”

Nearly $82.8 mil­lion of re­tail cannabis and more than $35 mil­lion of med­i­cal pot was ped­dled at Colorado shops in Oc­to­ber 2016; The to­tals are down from Septem­ber 2016, when mar­i­juana sales hit an all­time high in Colorado — but Oc­to­ber’s sales are cu­mu­la­tively up year over year by more than 46 per­cent.

Seder­berg and his col­league An­drew Liv­ingston, the law firm’s di­rec­tor of eco­nom­ics and re­search, also es­ti­mate that 2016’s over­all tax to­tals will amount to more than 2014 and 2015 tax to­tals com­bined, “and that’s a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate,” Seder­berg added.

Depend­ing on Novem­ber and De­cem­ber’s forth­com­ing pot tax to­tals, that sce­nario is pos­si­ble. Not ac­count­ing for li­cens­ing fees im­posed on cannabis busi­nesses, $63.4 mil­lion in mar­i­juana taxes were col­lected by the state in 2014 along with an­other $120.6 mil­lion in 2015. Since 2016 taxes through Oc­to­ber sit at $151.4 mil­lion, each of the year’s fi­nal two months would have to top $16.3 mil­lion apiece to best the two previous years’ to­tals com­bined. Ei­ther way, it’s go­ing to be close. There are three dif­fer­ent taxes on Colorado’s recre­ational cannabis — the stan­dard 2.9 per­cent state sales tax, a spe­cial 10 per­cent sales tax and a 15 per­cent ex­cise tax on whole­sale trans­fers, which is ear­marked for school con­struc­tion projects.

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