Joints are prepped at the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart on April 19, 2015. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Colorado pot shops sold $88 million of cannabis, accessories in January 2016

As Colorado pot sales dip after a big December, experts tout high hopes for school-bound tax revenues to top $40 million, as anticipated in the voter-approved Amendment 64

Colorado pot shops sold more than $88 million of marijuana and related accessories in January 2016, according to new data from the state’s Department of Revenue.

The state’s pot shops peddled $56.5 million of recreational marijuana in January 2016 — up 55 percent from January 2015’s totals but down 9 percent from the retail market’s record-breaking December 2015 figures.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in the state sold more than $32 million of cannabis in January, down 18 percent from the previous month.

Marijuana industry data specialists say the market’s downturn after a big December is to be expected.

“Bear in mind that in every other consumer product category December is a huge month, and December is already the biggest month that we’ve seen (in Colorado marijuana),” said Roy Bingham, founder of Boulder-based cannabis industry data group BDS Analytics. “It has to do with Christmas and gifts, and I suppose that there may be an element of that happening in the cannabis market now. It’s certainly something to share at your holiday parties. You could imagine people stocking up during the holidays.”

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Attendees at the Cannabis Cup look over a selection of marijuana-themed shirts at the Denver Mart on April 19, 2015. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Accessories such as T-shirts and vaporizers make up an average of 3 percent of state shops’ overall sales, according to BDS director of analytics Tom Jones.

Among the taxes collected on retail pot sales is the school-funding 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers, which amounted to $3.7 million in January. 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 BDS’s Bingham is confident it will easily top $40 million in 2016.

“We would be confident that at the current growth trend rates it’s going to exceed $40 million this year,” Bingham said. “We’re not big prognosticators of the future, but you can more or less draw a straight line of this year’s growth on the adult-use side and assume that that trend, even if it slows down a little, will grow and eventually exceed $40 million. That would be a growth of only 12 percent on the year, and it’ll be a lot more than that.”

Colorado marijuana 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 marijuana: the standard 2.9 percent sales tax; a 10 percent special marijuana sales tax; and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers. For January, Colorado collected more than $10.8 million in recreational taxes and fees and $1.6 million in medical taxes and fees.

Sales stats for Colorado weed
A month-by-month look comparing sales of recreational and medical marijuana

2016 Recreational total (1 month)
2016 Medical total (1 month)
2016: $88,510,002
2015 Recreational total (12 months)
2015 Medical total (12 months)
2015: $996,184,788