Since the first sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2014, state revenue from combined sales of medical and recreational sales have soared, from $683.5 million to $150.8 billion, according to a report released last week by the city of Denver. Sales revenue in Denver itself has risen from $329.8 million to $584 million in the same period.
Retail (recreational) sales totaled $377.5 million in 2017 and medical marijuana sales totaled $206.4 million. Retail sales were up nearly 30% while medical sales slipped about 2.6%. As a percentage of statewide sales, Denver accounted for 38.7% of the total, down nearly 10 percentage points compared to the 2014 totals.
State and local taxes on marijuana sales added $48.1 million to the city’s general fund in 2017, up from $44.7 million in 2016 and from $21.9 million in 2014. As a percentage of the city’s general fund, marijuana taxes accounted for 3.6% of total revenue.
Denver levies a retail marijuana sales tax of 22.15% on sales, comprised of a 3.65% standard sales tax, a 3.5% special sales tax and a state special sales tax of 15%. Until July 1 of last year, the city’s share of the 15% special state tax was 15%; after that date, the city’s share dropped to 10%.
When it comes to spending the money, Denver first allocates the city’s special retail tax and its share of the state special tax to fund marijuana-related regulation, education and enforcement. For 2018, the city has projected a budget of $8.8 million to pay for these services out of total expected revenue to the general fund of $21.2 million. The remaining $12.4 million will be added to deferred maintenance, affordable housing and opioid intervention.
As robust as sales have been in Denver, three of five counties where per capita sales are highest are located on Colorado’s southern border. State officials attribute the disparity to purchases made by residents of New Mexico who cross the border.