Ben Hawkins, left, an employee of Emerald Fields in Manitou Springs, helps customers Savannah Staff, center, and Avery Coughlin in the retail marijuana shop. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

Colorado shops sold more than $92 million of pot in February ’16

Recreational and medical marijuana sales showed strong growth in February, the latest month for which the Colorado Department of Revenue has released tax data for the state’s most newsworthy industry.

Colorado cannabis shops sold more than $58 million of recreational pot products in February, a 3 percent jump from January and a 48 percent leap from February 2015 — making it the state’s third highest month for retail sales since they began in January 2014. Medical marijuana sales in February totaled $34 million, up 7 percent from January and up 17 percent from February 2015.

In total, Colorado shops sold $92.7 million in marijuana and related accessories in February, making it the fifth most lucrative month for cannabis sales in state history, according to Cannabist calculations and state data.

February’s pot sales totals represent a 35 percent increase from February 2015 and a 5 percent increase from January, “which is more like a 10-12 percent rise, all things being equal, as February had two less days than January,” said Roy Bingham, founder of Boulder-based cannabis industry data group BDS Analytics.

The biggest story in the newly released February data: The marijuana concentrates category thrived in February, more than doubling its total sales from a year ago, according to BDS, a firm that specializes in data collected from dispensaries’ point-of-sale systems.

The three largest contributors to concentrates’ mammoth, 105-percent sales growth were responsible for a majority of the category’s purchases; From February 2015 to February 2016, wax sales were up 248 percent, plug-and-play hash oil cartridges made for vape pens were up 163 percent and shatter grew by 62 percent, according to BDS data.

Wax, shatter and hash oil are different types of cannabis concentrates.

Among the taxes collected on retail pot sales is the school-funding 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers, which amounted to a record-setting $4 million in February. 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 industry analysts are confident it will easily top $40 million in 2016.

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 February, Colorado collected more than $12.2 million in recreational taxes and fees and more than $1.9 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 (2 months)
2016 Medical total (2 months)
2016: $181,205,007
2015 Recreational total (12 months)
2015 Medical total (12 months)
2015: $996,184,788