January has record $8.8M in pot taxes | AspenTimes.com

January has record $8.8M in pot taxes

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press

DENVER — Colorado reported its best month yet for recreational marijuana sales in January, with a tenfold spike since last year in the tax stream designated specifically for schools.

Colorado notched $8.8 million from marijuana-related taxes and fees in January. The numbers were reported this week, the first time Colorado had a month to compare with period a year ago.

Most striking in the January numbers was a spike in the tax stream designated specifically for schools. That excise tax brought in $2.3 million. That's more than 10 times the haul from January 2014, when Colorado started collecting the tax, when the excise tax raised $195,000.

Colorado's marijuana industry was given a tax-free period when recreational sales began to transfer pot plants from the medical industry to the recreational industry. As a result, excise taxes for the first few months were quite low.

By now, Colorado's pot shops have sold all their tax-free pot, so the plants they're growing now are subject to a 15 percent excise tax.

The excise taxes are designated specifically for school construction. The rest of the taxes are spent by state lawmakers, who have used the money on regulating the new industry and on things such as police training and drug education.

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The January tax report is the final monthly tally lawmakers will have before setting next year's budget. That's important because Colorado's rising tax revenues are triggering a mandatory refund of the pot taxes, a quirk of constitutional spending limits.

State lawmakers are expected to pass a measure to ask voters this fall to authorize keeping the pot taxes instead of refunding them. That measure has yet to be introduced.

Aspen pot sales

The city of Aspen lumps marijuana and liquor tax revenues into the same category. January retail sales for liquor and marijuana in Aspen totaled nearly $1.8 million, a 66 percent increase over January last year, when there were no retail marijuana stores open yet in Aspen.

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