Colorado Collects $2M in Recreational Pot Taxes in First Month

First $40 million will go to school construction.

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Colorado made roughly $2 million in marijuana taxes in January, state revenue officials reported Monday.

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

Colorado legalized 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 percent sales taxes and 15 percent excise taxes. Voters approved the pot taxes last year. They declared that the first $40 million of the excise tax must go to school construction; the rest will be spent by state lawmakers.

Colorado has about 160 state-licensed recreational marijuana stores, though local licensing kept some from opening in January. Local governments also have the ability to levy additional pot sales taxes if they wish.

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 how to spend the windfall.

Budget-writing lawmakers joke that plenty of interests have their hands out to get a piece of the pot windfall.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has already sent the Legislature a detailed $134 million proposal for spending recreational and medical marijuana money, including new spending on anti-drug messaging to kids and more advertising discouraging driving while high.

State police chiefs have asked for more money, too.

"The whole world wants to belly up to this trough," said Sen. Pat Steadman, who serves on Colorado's budget-writing Joint Budget Committee.

Other countries also are watching Colorado, which has the world's first fully regulated recreational marijuana market. The Netherlands has legal sales of pot but does not allow growing or distribution. Uruguay's marijuana program is still under development.

Marijuana buds for sale at in Northglenn, Colorado, December 31, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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