Recreational Sales Rise 5%, But Actual Growth Much Bigger

Sales at Colorado recreational marijuana shops rose 5% in February to hit $15.1 million, according to an extrapolation of the latest tax data released by the state.

The figures are lower than expected: Many observers – seeing the huge demand when recreational sales kicked off in January – predicted that revenue would soar as more shops opened.

But the rate of growth is actually much larger than it appears given that there are fewer days in February vs. January.

To look at it another way, cannabis stores generated an average of about $539,285 each day in February, compared with $464,516 the previous month – an increase of about 15%.

If there were 31 days in February, sales would have edged closer to $17 million, vs. $14.4 million a month earlier. (Note: These estimates are based on an extrapolation of the standard retail sales tax revenue collected on recreational cannabis transactions, including sales of ancillary products).

Colorado’s recreational sales are expected to grow steadily throughout the year as additional stores open for business and inventory supply challenges resolve themselves on the recreational side of the industry.

Nonetheless, state lawmakers are taking a cautious approach to finalizing spending plans for the tax revenues until additional information can predict tax revenues with greater accuracy. Initial estimates presented to the voters who approved Colorado’s tax plan have varied widely from initial estimates from the governor’s office and January’s official tax report.

On the medical side, sales rose 12% in February to top $35.2 million – showing that the new recreational market is not eating into MMJ revenues.

In total, the state collected $3.2 million in taxes and fees on recreational and medical marijuana in February. Of that total, $438,253 is tied to a 2.9% standard sales tax on recreational marijuana, while $1.43 million is related to a 10% sales tax on retail cannabis transactions (which includes ancillary products).

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