Randy Wyrick

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March 12, 2014
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Retail reefer sales brisk in market's first month

DENVER — In their first month of legality, Colorado’s reefer retailers sold $45 million in legal reefer and generated $3.5 million in tax and fee revenue for the state.

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, January saw $14 million in legal reefer sales to adults and another $31 million in medical marijuana sales.

January’s legal reefer pumped $2.1 million to Colorado’s state coffers in tax and fee revenue. Medical cannabis taxes and fees added another $1.4 million, according to the Department of Revenue data.

Eagle County, which doesn’t yet have retail marijuana sales, saw $4,141 in sales taxes on $276,066 in medical marijuana sales, the Department of Revenue report said. That’s not much of a dent in Eagle County’s total January sales tax revenue of $2,492,381.

Eagle County and towns in the county have several medical marijuana shops but so far no reefer retailers.

Eagle County has room for eight reefer retailers, and while some medical marijuana shops have discusses the possibility of retail sales, none have yet finished applying for one of those eight licenses, according to the county’s community development department.

The Front Rangers

On the Front Range, though, cannabis companies are ecstatic.

“The month of January showed the world that taking marijuana off the streets and putting it behind a taxed, regulated counter can be done professionally, productively, and prosperously,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

In Colorado, 59 cannabis companies sell legal reefer. They pay a 10 percent special sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax, approved by Colorado voters this past November.

Gov. John Hickenlooper projected that combined sales from both legal medical and recreational marijuana could hit nearly $1 billion in the first year, about $600 million from recreational sales. The state would collect at least $134 million in taxes and fees.

The numbers will get bigger, with more than 150 recreational marijuana dispensaries now licensed around the state and more being added.

The Cannabis Kids

Cannabis advocates, including three members of Congress — Rep. Jared Polis among them — are so encouraged that they’re storming the Bastille, heading to Washington, D.C., to try to convince lawmakers that because Colorado’s first month worked so well, they should kill the federal prohibition.

“It’s time for Congress to reconcile outdated federal laws with those of states like Colorado that have decided to opt out of the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition,” Smith said.

Polis is the lead sponsor of a bill that would do just do that. The Ending Federal Prohibition Act — HR-499 — would lift the federal prohibition on marijuana, allowing local, county and state governments to regulate marijuana as they currently do alcohol.

The cannabis advocates make their case Thursday morning in the Cannon House Office Building with a briefing on the growing support for the legal cannabis industry.

Polis inserted a provision into the Farm Bill that legalized growing industrial hemp in states where marijuana is legal — so far Colorado and Washington. Even though he voted against the Farm Bill, it passed and was signed into law with that provision in it.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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The VailDaily Updated Mar 17, 2014 10:10AM Published Mar 12, 2014 05:18PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.