Colorado’s latest tax data show that legal marijuana sales are way up from last year. While medical sales have increased, the boom is largely related to a jump in recreational sales.
Sales of medical and adult use marijuana in Colorado continue to flourish, Marijuana Business Daily reports. According to the state’s latest tax data, legal cannabis sales reached $846 million so far from January through August, up 33 percent from the same period last year. Colorado is now on track to hit over $1.2 billion in sales in 2016, a marked increase from the $996 million in sales it reached last year.
“This year, [Colorado is] definitely going to surpass that billion dollar number. It’s going to look 1.2, 1.3 billion for just marijuana sales. That includes recreational and medical. And then, the taxes are going to look somewhere around 150 to 170 million purely in cannabis taxes,” Ricardo Baca of The Cannabist recently told NPR.
The state’s dispensaries and recreational retail shops reported $126 million in sales for August, hitting a new record for the state. The state’s previous record was from July, when it reached $122.67 million in revenue.
Adult use marijuana accounted for about $85 million of August’s total cannabis sales, up from $59.2 million in August 2015. That’s a 43 percent jump in recreational sales compared to last year, which The Cannabist attributes to stronger summer season tourism. The state saw similar strong sales numbers in the summer months of July, August and September last year.
Colorado’s medical marijuana sales for August were $41 million, down slightly compared to last August’s totals. However, medicinal cannabis sales are still up 10 percent for the year up to this point. Under the law, the state allows patients with epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis, nausea, cachexia or wasting syndrome, cancer, and chronic pain to access medical marijuana, provided they have a written recommendation from a physician.
Colorado established medical marijuana legislation in 2001 and legalized recreational marijuana in November 2012. The state applies a 2.9 percent sales tax to both medical and recreational marijuana sales, and an additional 10 percent special sales tax to recreational sales. In 2014, the state’s first year of legal recreational marijuana sales, the state totaled $699.2 million in sales and $76.2 million in tax revenue. Since then, sales have continued to balloon, and the state regularly breaks its monthly cannabis sales.
Nearly a quarter of the tax and license fee revenue Colorado collects from marijuana sales goes to school construction. Over the past year, the state collected a marijuana tax revenue surplus of $66 million, and announced it would allocate $2.9 million of that total to help combat bullying in schools. The city of Aurora is using its excess tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales to help feed, house, and support the city’s homeless.
Colorado is just one of four U.S. states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. It was the first to do so, and then was quickly followed by Washington and eventually Oregon and Alaska. Washington D.C. has also legalized adult use cannabis. Five states will vote on recreational marijuana initiatives this coming election.