Tourists Doing Their Part To Bring In Colorado Marijuana Taxes

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“Come for the snow, stay for the weed” could easily be utilized as the town motto in places like Vail, Breckenridge, and Aspen.

In a recent Colorado state study it turns out that Colorado’s marijuana market is considerably larger than anticipated. In certain ski towns, 90% of the the recreational weed purchased is being bought by tourists.

The “red card” prevalence

In a nutshell, it’s very easy for a Colorado residents to get “red card” status. The red card is a physician’s suggestion, a prescription if you will, that a person has a medical need for marijuana. And that brings the purchase price down dramatically. Consequently, that $15 red card could save you hundreds or even thousands in taxes each year and Colorado residents aren’t stupid when it comes to weed or personal finances.

As a result, recreational marijuana purchases in Colorado are dominated by tourists who aren’t allowed to get the much sought after “red card.”

“The potential demand for marijuana by out-of-state visitors could represent a significant portion of total retail demand. While many Colorado residents have medical marijuana cards allowing them to purchase at a lower tax rate and at a greater number of locations, out-of-state visitors must purchase from retail marijuana vendors exclusively,” the study said. “Preliminary revenue and sales data from the Department of Revenue indicate that for some counties about 90 percent of all retail sales are likely to be from out-of-state visitors.”

Presently in the study’s estimations, 9% of Colorado residents are buying weed at least once a month. And “potheads,” or heavy smokers, are smoking more than thought prior to legalization. 22% of users are consuming around 70% of the legal pot sold in the state. A “pothead,” or heavy user, is described as those that vape, smoke, or eat at least a gram a day, 21 days out of the month.

That’s a lot of Marijuana

The study also estimates that residents will consume around 121 metric tons annually while tourists will buy roughly 9 metric tons. A study by state tax officials earlier this year estimated the market at just 92 metric tons, and a separate study released last year estimated the market at 64 metric tons.

Oops, people like weed.

“This analysis suggests that the Colorado marijuana market is larger than previously thought,” the study says. “When combined, total resident and visitor demand is estimated to be approximately … 130.3 metric tons in 2014. This is a substantially higher value than reported in previous estimates.”

The study was commissioned by state marijuana regulators and conducted by the Marijuana Policy Group, a collaboration between private consultants and the University of Colorado-Boulder Business Research Division.

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