Early returns for the taxes from Colorado's pot businesses are, well, a little disappointing, possibly because expectations are in the clouds. The results, at least so far, are much more grounded.
The numbers finally came in and, according to state revenue officials, Colorado made $2 million from sales taxes on the country's first legal weed. In January, the state cashed in on $14.02 million worth of weed from 160 state-licensed recreational marijuana stores, give or take. (Licensing problems kept some from opening to celebrate the first official month of legal weed sales.) But these returns don't meet the lofty expectations state lawmakers and the pro-pot activists had hoped for.
Despite the benefit of selling the first legal weed in the U.S., and the rush in weed tourism and first-day sales, these returns don't match the average monthly sales required for the state to reach its expectations. Governor John Hickenlooper's 2014-2015 budget predicted about $98 million in sales taxes, with $40 million set aside for school construction. At the current rate Colorado won't even reach that level.
But we also have to consider that sales will fluctuate month-to-month. For instance, travelling to Colorado, a state not known for its tropical climate, in January, which was the coldest month this century. Freezing cold is not prime pot weather. Most people equate smoking pot to a setting like sitting around a park in the summer time. As the snow melts and the temperature mellows, sales will probably rise. April brings the pot smoking Black Friday, so weed dispensaries will likely see increased sales. How high is the question on everyone's mind.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.