Staff members of Medicine Man marijuana dispensary take care of customers at the Denver shop in January 2014. (Denver Post file)

A cool $2 million in taxes for Colorado’s first month of recreational pot

Colorado collected slightly more than $2 million in taxes on the sale of recreational marijuana in the month of January, according to new figures released by the state Monday.

The numbers are the first time an official tally has been put on the value of the historic January sales. But they are also below the amounts that previous estimates have predicted Colorado could reap from the sale of marijuana to anyone 21 and older.

Related: Check out Colorado’s previous estimates on marijuana sales, taxes

In January, Colorado collected $1.4 million from a special 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana, plus another $416,690 from the state’s standard 2.9 percent sales tax, according to a news release Monday from the Colorado Department of Revenue. Extrapolating from those figures, it means recreational marijuana businesses that submitted tax returns in January did slightly more than $14 million in retail sales during the month.

Recreational marijuana businesses paid another $195,318 in excise tax during January, which will be put toward school construction.

Sales at medical marijuana businesses generated another $913,519 in sales tax for the state during January.

In total, 59 recreational marijuana businesses filed returns in January, according to the news release. Twenty-four businesses were approved to be open for sales on Jan. 1, according to the release.

Where’s the nearest pot shop? Find out via our handy map of medical and recreational sellers

That marks just a fraction of the eventual size possible for Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry. As of the end of February, state officials have given approval to 167 stores for recreational sales, though not all of those stores will have received the necessary local approval also needed to open.

Still, the January revenue figures put the industry on pace to come in below previous estimates. Both Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget office and legislative analysts have predicted recreational sales for the first six months of 2014 would top $190 million. Instead, if January’s figures hold, sales for the period would hit only $84 million.

Excise taxes — paid on the wholesale price when marijuana is transferred between the grower and the seller — are also running behind predictions.

Hickenlooper has proposed putting the money from recreational marijuana taxes toward drug-addiction treatment and youth drug-use prevention. Lawmakers, who are currently setting next fiscal year’s budget, have said they want to wait for more numbers before making a final decision.

John Ingold: 303-954-1068, or

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