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Colorado collects US$2 million in recreational pot taxes

Published:Wednesday | March 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

DENVER (AP):

Colorado made roughly US$2 million in marijuana taxes in January, state revenue officials reported Monday in the world's first accounting of the recreational pot business.

The tax total reported by the state Department of Revenue indicates US$14.02 million worth of recreational pot was sold from 59 businesses. The state collected roughly US$2.01 million in taxes.

Colorado legalised pot in 2012, but the commercial sale of marijuana didn't begin until January. Washington state sales begin in coming months.

The pot taxes come from 12.9 per cent sales taxes and 15 per cent excise taxes. Including licensing fees and taxes from Colorado's pre-existing medical marijuana industry, the state collected about US$3.5 million from the marijuana industry in January.

That is a relative drop in the bucket for Colorado's roughly US$20 billion annual budget, but still a windfall that has numerous interests holding out their hands. By comparison, Colorado made about US$2.7 million in liquor excise taxes in January of last year. State-wide liquor receipts for January 2014 were not yet available Monday.

Colorado tax officials say the January marijuana reports were in line with expectations, though they repeatedly said before the figures were reported that they couldn't guess what tax receipts would be.

Monday's tax release intensified lobbying over how Colorado should spend its pot money. Budget-writers expect the nascent marijuana industry to be extremely volatile for several years, making lawmakers nervous about where to direct the funds.