DENVER — Colorado’s recreational pot sales jumped nearly a third in March, according to sales tax reports issued by the state Thursday.
The state Department of Revenue reported that Colorado sold nearly $19 million worth of recreational pot in March, up from about $14 million worth of recreational pot in February.
Sales taxes are due three weeks or so after a month ends, and it takes another couple of weeks for the state to compile the data. So taxes are generally reported about two months after they’re collected from consumers.
Through three months of retail recreational pot, Colorado has earned $7.3 million in taxes from the drug. That figure does not include medical marijuana sales taxes or licensing fees, which bring Colorado’s haul to about $12.6 million.
Other highlights from the March pot tax report:
— Colorado still sells more medical pot than recreational pot. Total medical pot sales for March were about $34.5 million, compared to about $19.6 million for recreational pot. But recreational pot taxes are much higher, so recreational pot brings in more tax revenue for the state.
— Colorado’s pot plants are growing up. In preparation for the January opening of recreational sales, pot growers and processors were allowed a one-time tax-free transfer of their medical plants. For that reason, January and February excise taxes were relatively low. Now that the plants have matured and been sold, pot producers are having to pay those excise taxes. Excise tax collections jumped nearly 80 percent between February and March, to about $610,000.
— Licenses and fees charged to pot growers and sellers continue to be significant tax generators. Licenses and fees brought Colorado about $903,000 in March.
Just this week, state lawmakers approved a plan to spend marijuana taxes, mostly on child drug use prevention and outreach. The $33 million plan includes money for more school nurses and public education on using marijuana responsibly.
Afraid of volatility in the new marijuana market, Colorado lawmakers decided to spend only pot taxes already in hand. In other words, the pot-tax spending plan for the fiscal year starting in June is entirely made of medical marijuana taxes and fees already collected.