In the first three months of 2016, Colorado pot shops sold more than $270 million in cannabis and related products, according to new figures from the state Department of Revenue.
The state's latest data shows that its cannabis shops sold nearly $90 million of cannabis in March 2016.
The licensed stores sold more than $55 million in recreational cannabis and more than $33 million in medical cannabis in March, the latest month for which the department has released tax data for the industry. Totals for retail and medical cannabis dipped slightly in March after a bustling February, which was the state's fifth most lucrative month for sales since they began in January 2014, according to the Cannabist's calculations and state data.
In total, Colorado shops sold $88.9 million in cannabis and related accessories in March.
March 2016 totals for recreational pot sales are up 30 percent from March 2015, which shows that “marijuana sales remain strong,” said Christian Sederberg, an attorney for the cannabis industry. “As the regulated system continues to work, we’re also on pace to have over $40 million in excise taxes, meaning there could be additional taxes available from the excise tax to be used for something beyond the public school construction fund.”
Among the taxes collected on retail pot sales is the school-funding 15 percent excise tax on wholesale cannabis transfers, which amounted to $3.5 million in March. One of the cornerstones of the campaign that successfully ran Colorado’s pot-legalizing Amendment 64 says that the first $40 million raised by that excise tax will go toward school construction projects.
That specific tax totaled $13.3 million in 2014 and $35 million in 2015, and industry analysts — Sederberg included — say they are confident it will top $40 million in 2016.
Colorado cannabis outlets sold more than $699 million of product in 2014 and more than $996 million in 2015. Year-over-year totals for taxes and license fees grew too, from $76 million in 2014 to $135 million in 2015.
There are three types of state taxes on recreational cannabis: the standard 2.9 percent sales tax; a 10 percent special cannabis sales tax; and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale cannabis transfers. For March, Colorado collected more than $11.3 million in recreational taxes and fees and more than $1.7 million in medical taxes and fees.
Meanwhile, a new report estimates that retail cannabis sales in the U.S. will total $4.5 billion in 2016.