(Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post file)

Another record month for Colorado rec pot sales

For the third consecutive month in 2015, recreational marijuana sales in Colorado reached record highs in March, according to new Department of Revenue data released Monday.

More than $42.7 million of recreational cannabis was sold in Colorado pot shops in March, the most recent data available from the state. Those sales totals crushed previous records set in February ($39.1 million) and January ($36.4 million) 2015.

Another record for the state’s so-called marijuana experiment: Nearly $2.6 million was raised for school construction capital in March via the excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers. The monthly excise taxes earmarked for schools never topped $2 million in 2014, the first year of recreational pot sales in Colorado or anywhere else — but they’ve raised more than $7 million in the first three months of 2015 already.

Legalization advocate Mason Tvert said the consistently rising recreational sales and tax numbers make sense.

“Consumers are becoming more comfortable with a regulated market,” said Tvert, communications director for advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project. “They’re more familiar with it, and that’s reflected in their behavior. For quite some time last year, no stores were open in many parts of the state, and we’ve seen these businesses open their doors and begin to establish themselves, and people are now aware of them.

“It’s becoming a more normal behavior. Rather than trying to find illegal marijuana in the underground market, people are learning that it’s easier to access it legally in regulated markets.”

Medical marijuana sales have risen consistently since January 2015, according to the data; Medical pot sales in March totaled $31.9 million, up more than $2.5 million from February’s totals. The record for medical marijuana sales in Colorado‚Äôs recreational era came in February 2014 when $36 million in medical pot was sold.

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

2015 Recreational total
2015 Medical total
2015: $207,580,109
2014 Recreational total
2014 Medical total
2014: $699,198,805