(Denver Post file)

Colorado’s February pot taxes provide $2.1M for schools

Colorado sold a record amount of recreational marijuana in February 2015, according to new data released by the state on Friday.

Around $39.2 million of recreational cannabis was sold in state shops in February, according to calculations based on data provided by the Colorado Department of Revenue. The previous monthly record for recreational sales was January 2015’s $36.4 million.

Much of that growth comes from additional shops opening up in still-new recreational cities, including Aurora, Colorado’s third most populous city that only started selling retail pot last October, experts say.

“We just opened the ninth store in Aurora,” said Meg Collins, vice president of business development for Good Chemistry, which operates a shop in central Denver and its brand-new flagship store in Aurora (in addition to being part-owners of Denver shop Wellspring). “The activity in Aurora has helped boost those sales and tax numbers, and people are also getting more comfortable with purchasing legally, knowing that it’s available and becoming a bit more mainstream, and that’s helping sales, too.

“And anything that helps legal sales helps erode the black market.”

Colorado’s total medical marijuana sales in February 2015 added up to about $29.3 million, up more than $1 million from the previous month. The record for medical marijuana sales in Colorado’s recreational era, which started Jan. 1, 2014, came in February 2014 when $36 million in medical pot was sold.

Another important indicator in Colorado’s complex pot taxes is the amount dedicated for public schools, and that monthly total was more than $2 million for the second consecutive month in February. In January, the excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers raised more than $2.3 million for schools, and in February it totaled $2.1 million.

The monthly excise taxes earmarked for school construction capital never topped $2 million in 2014, the first year of recreational pot sales in Colorado.

In 2014, Colorado sold nearly $700 million of pot — $385.9 million for medical marijuana and $313.2 million for recreational cannabis. Projections based on the first two months of 2015’s recreational and medical numbers suggest that Colorado will sell more marijuana, and collect more in pot-related taxes, in 2015 than the state did in 2014.

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

Recreational total
Medical total