Pot reaches billion-dollar mark
Colorado marijuana shops hit milestone in first 10 months of the year.
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.