Thomas Behler inputs a customer's information at Ganja Gourmet, which resides on a pot-heavy stretch of South Broadway. (Anya Semenoff, The Denver Post)

Annual Colorado marijuana sales near $900 million mark in November 2015

After taking a sharp dive in October, Colorado marijuana sales and taxes held steady in November 2015, according to new data from the state’s Department of Revenue.

While the state’s December data and year-end totals won’t be available until mid-February, Colorado’s cannabis shops are already approaching the $900 million sales mark with this week’s new November numbers.

From October to November, recreational marijuana sales increased by 4 percent to $51 million as medical cannabis sales dipped more than 5 percent to $29.6 million, according to Cannabist calculations based on the state’s tax data.

Colorado marijuana sales in 2015 peaked in August with $59.2 million sold recreationally and $41.4 million sold medically. Legal marijuana observers say the fall months’ lower totals are the result of a seasonal decline in tourism and an influx of post-harvest season cannabis making its way into the state either via legal, in-state home-growers or illegal cultivations in California and Oregon.

“It’s harvest season,” Cannabis Patients Alliance founder Teri Robnett previously said of the October sales drop. “I’d expect the sales numbers to fall in September and October.”

Nearly $700 million of medical and recreational marijuana was sold in Colorado in 2014. In 11 months of recorded data, the 2015 numbers have already passed last year’s mark, with nearly $895 million in sales.

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 November, Colorado collected $10.7 million in recreational taxes and fees and more than $1.5 million in medical taxes and fees, bringing the 2015 cumulative revenue total to more than $121 million.

Perhaps the most-watched figure in the state’s marijuana tax data is the 15 percent excise tax, which is earmarked for school construction projects. In November that tax brought in more than $3 million, up from $2.6 million in October. So far in 2015, those school-bound tax revenues have topped $31.4 million — besting that tax’s 2014 totals of $13.3 million.

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

2015 Recreational total (11 months)
2015 Medical total (11 months)
2015: $894,865,100
2014 Recreational total (12 months)
2014 Medical total (12 months)
2014: $699,198,805