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Colorado recreational pot sales dip for 1st time

By: The Associated Press
July 11, 2014 Updated: July 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm
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DENVER, CO - MARCH 27: A grow light shines through the leaves of a cannabis plant at Northern Lights grow facility in Denver, Colorado on March 27, 2014. The retail marijuana business has been booming in Edgewater. No crime or problems have been reported to police by retail marijuana businesses since legal recreational sales began on January 1st.(Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post)

DENVER — Colorado sold less recreational pot in May than in April, the first month-to-month sales decline for the drug that became legal at the beginning of the year.

Tax collections reported by the state Department of Revenue this week showed Colorado sold about $21 million of recreational pot in May. That was down slightly from April, when the 4/20 marijuana holiday was credited in part for a boost in recreational sales to $22 million.

Despite the lower sales numbers, Colorado's pot tax haul increased in May because of an excise tax that is being phased in. Collections of that 15 percent tax, which pays for school construction, rose from $734,000 in April to $1.1 million in May. Sales taxes collected on other items sold by marijuana shops, such as T-shirts and buttons, also rose slightly.

Including licensing fees and medical marijuana taxes, Colorado collected about $5.7 million from marijuana in May. The state has collected a total of $34.9 million from all marijuana taxes, fees and licenses since recreational sales became legal in January.

Recreational pot is taxed at a much higher rate than medical pot, which is subject only to state and local sales taxes.

Marijuana sold for recreational use has an extra 10 percent sales tax to pay for pot regulation and consumer education such as don't-smoke-and-drive campaigns, as well as the 15 percent excise tax.

State regulators estimate total market demand for medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado is a combined 130 metric tons a year.

In what is believed to be the first post-legalization market study issued earlier this week, regulators concluded visitors account for 44 percent of recreational pot sales in the Denver area and 90 percent of sales in mountain communities.

The study found marijuana has an average market rate in Colorado of $220 per ounce.

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