The state of Colorado reported today that recreational marijuana sales resulted in $3.5 million in tax revenues and fees in the first month the drug could be sold legally without a prescription. The total for the month of January included $2.9 million in taxes for both recreational and medical marijuana and nearly $600,000 in fees, according to Colorado’s Department of Revenue.
Colorado marijuana laws
Consumption of medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription has been legal in Colorado for several years, but retail sales of marijuana without a prescription just began on January 1st of this year. The Rocky Mountain state charges a 15% excise tax on pot businesses and a 2.9% sales tax on purchases of marijuana and refined marijuana products.
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Too early to make accurate sales predictions
In a statement, Colorado’s Department of Revenue Chief Barbara Brohl said, “The first month of sales for recreational marijuana fell in line with expectations,” but warned future retail sales, tax and fee revenues of marijuana will be “significantly affected in both directions” by a number factors.
“We expect clear revenue patterns will emerge by April and plan to incorporate this data into future forecasts,” Brohl elaborated.
The total number of licensed retail marijuana shops in Colorado is increasing rapidly. As of the end of January, official records indicate there are a total of 170 medical and retail marijuana outlets registered in the state. Fifty-nine shops had begun sales and filed monthly tax returns with the state.
The future of legal marijuana
Washington state has also recently legalized the retail sale of marijuana, and shops will open for business there in the second half of this year. Legal pot supporters in Alaska are hopeful of putting legalization to a popular vote there in August. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada and Oregon are all currently considering legislation to legalize pot. Entrepreneur reports that a San Francisco-based investor group is projecting that the national market for legal marijuana is likely to grow from $2.3 billion this year to $10.2 billion over the next five years.