The first recreational pot sales numbers are in. Consumers bought $14-million worth of marijuana in January. The state collected $2 million in tax revenue – and future collections are expected to rise.
The increase in taxes is expected because more stores will open as the year goes on. For January, only a few dozen were open all month, and that’s only a fraction of how big the industry will be, two or three years from now.
"So, there’s a lot of moving parts here and it’s very hard to make these predictions," said Michael Elliott, with the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.
More medical owners are expected to convert to recreational sales, and cities like Aurora will soon lift moratoriums.
For now, most of the recreational stores are in Denver, which accounted for half the state’s total sales. Summit County was a distant second.
"Every tax dollar that’s collected by the government is a dollar that’s being taken away from the violent black market people who used to do the sale of this," Elliot said.
Governor John Hickenlooper’s office projected that sales could eventually reach $600 million.