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Business booming in Manitou Springs on recreational marijuana tax holiday

September 16, 2015 Updated: September 16, 2015 at 6:04 pm
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"I'm standing in line," said Manitou Springs resident Ron Harwood, who confirmed he came out to Maggie's Farm "specifically" for the tax break. "I don't usually have to stand in line." (Matt Steiner, The Gazette)

Even one parking space was hard to find shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday at each of Manitou Springs' recreational marijuana stores.

Several people at each pot shop said they made the midweek visit to take advantage of a tax holiday saving them the normal 10 percent sales tax imposed by the state of Colorado on recreational marijuana sales.

"I'm standing in line," said Manitou Springs resident Ron Harwood, who confirmed he came out to Maggie's Farm "specifically" for the tax break. "I don't usually have to stand in line."

A manager and spokesman for Maggie's Farm didn't want to be identified but said customers were waiting at 8 a.m. for the doors to open Wednesday. He said Maggie's expected to have a day much like that of a holiday weekend. And early returns justified bringing in 30 percent more staff to handle the rush, he said, with a line of customers spilling out the front door at the recreational marijuana retailer all morning.

The spokesman said the last time patrons had to line up outside was on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

Both Maggie's Farm and Emerald Fields, the only recreational marijuana stores in El Paso County, advertised the tax holiday on their websites.

Emerald Fields seemed as busy as Maggie's Farm with a steady stream of customers rolling in and out of the parking lot. Multiple people who purchased pot at Maggie's could be seen less than a half hour later entering Emerald Fields a few blocks east on Manitou Avenue.

A receptionist at Emerald Fields was overheard describing the morning rush. At 10 a.m., she said the store had seen more than half the customers it usually gets in a day.

Emerald Fields spokeswoman Caitlin Murphy didn't provide hard data to confirm the receptionist's statement, but she did say business was up.

"Our staff is pleased with the turnout today and we are happily serving our guests who have come to enjoy the tax break holiday," Murphy said.

The tax waiver was triggered almost two years ago, when Colorado voters approved two taxes on recreational marijuana - a 10 percent sales tax for shoppers and a 15 percent excise tax for wholesale growers.

Ahead of that vote, state tax analysts miscalculated overall state revenue for 2014. The error triggered a mandatory suspension of the new pot taxes, as mandated by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Lawmakers waived the taxes for a single day, though voters will decide in November to authorize the state to keep some $50 million in pot taxes collected in 2014.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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