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Colorado releases a trove of marijuana sales data

No longer will backwards math be needed to determine marijuana sales in Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Revenue on Tuesday published a mother lode of previously unreleased sales data for the state’s marijuana retailers.

“We know this information is highly desired by the general public, media and researchers,” Mike Hartman, the Colorado Department of Revenue’s executive director, said in a statement. “To that end, in our efforts to be as transparent as possible, we will now provide aggregate sales data. That, coupled with state tax revenue data already provided, will give an accurate picture of the financial footprint of this burgeoning industry.”

Revenue Department officials, in releasing the monthly and annual sales data, also announced plans to release monthly marijuana sales reports showing total sales for retail and medical marijuana dispensaries. The reports will include countywide information.

The historical and future sales data can be accessed here.

Prior to Tuesday, the state released monthly reports outlining taxes and fees revenue remitted by marijuana shops. The reports did not provide sales data.

In an effort to comprehensively report on this first-of-its-kind industry, The Cannabist developed formulas verified by state officials and economists to tabulate monthly sales estimates. The calculations, however, could not be truly infallible as the monthly tax receipts contained the potential for variance because of incomplete, amended or late returns.

Those caveats and that potential for variance increased this fall when the reports started reflecting a new taxing structure enacted in July.

At that point, the retail marijuana special sales tax rate increased to 15 percent from 10 percent and exempted recreational marijuana products from the 2.9 percent state sales tax rate. Accessories or other goods not containing marijuana are still subject to the standard 2.9 percent sales tax rate.

But when the July report came out, the column indicating revenue remitted at the 2.9 percent tax rate contained figures that appeared to be inflated, Larson Silbaugh, senior economist for the Colorado Legislative Council Staff, told The Cannabist at the time.

It was one indication of a “period of transition” that likely would even out over subsequent months.

Based on the sales data released Tuesday, here are the official annual and year-to-date sales data for Colorado’s marijuana retailers, with Cannabist calculations included for historical reference:

Official Colorado sales data

2014: $683.52 million
2015: $995.59 million
2016: $1.31 billion
2017 (January to October): $1.26 billion
Total: $4.25 billion

Unofficial sales data calculated by The Cannabist

2014: $699.2 million
2015: $996.18 million
2016: $1.31 billion
2017 (January to October): $1.28 billion
Total $4.29 billion