Pot tax holiday prompts an uptick in sales | AspenTimes.com

Pot tax holiday prompts an uptick in sales

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Lead budtender Alex Brough helps customer Whitney Tobel as she shops at Native Roots during the pot tax holiday on Wednesday.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Aspen marijuana dispensaries and cultivators reported an increase in business Wednesday thanks to the state’s one-day marijuana tax holiday.

“Oh yeah,” said Garrett Patrick, owner of Stash dispensary, when asked if he noticed an increase in sales. “It’s probably double.”

The state holiday suspends the 25 percent taxes collected by the state of Colorado on recreational marijuana sales for one day. Local sales tax and taxes on medical marijuana were not waived.

Patrick said he thinks the uptick in business is a sign the state could destroy the black market if it lowered marijuana taxes.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he said. “Still, the state could reduce (the taxes) a bit and still make money. The taxes on the recreational side are keeping the black market alive.”

The state taxes break down to a 10 percent retail tax on customers and a 15 percent excise tax levied on growers. Voters approved the 25 percent in taxes when they legalized pot in Colorado in 2013.

Wednesday’s waiver was triggered by that vote in 2013. However, before that vote, state tax analysts miscalculated overall state revenue for 2014, which prompted mandatory suspension of the marijuana taxes.

State lawmakers decided to waive the taxes only for a single day, though voters will have to return to polls in November to authorize the state to keep some $50 million in pot taxes collected in 2014.

Jesse Miller, an owner of Leaf Aspen Co., said that as of Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., sales at his Aspen dispensary exceeded the combined sales of the past five days. He said he was “very much so” surprised at the numbers.

Leaf Aspen also sells wholesale marijuana grown at a facility in Rifle, and Miller said many wholesale buyers placed orders to be delivered Wednesday.

“Leading up to (Wednesday), people tried to get as much delivered today as possible,” Miller said, adding that he couldn’t fill some of the orders.

Miller estimated he saved about $1,000 in recreational sales taxes Wednesday, while Patrick said he saved about $2,000.

Shoppers were estimated to have saved about $20 an ounce, while pot growers saved $300 a pound, according to The Associated Press.

Calls to the owners of three other Aspen dispensaries were not returned Wednesday, while a fourth, Green Dragon Cannabis Co., was closed because it is in the process of changing owners, said former CEO Brian Radtke.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.