Retail sales of cannabis in the month of January yielded an estimated $3.5 million dollars in state tax revenues, according to financial data released online this week by the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Under Colorado law, commercial cannabis producers must pay a 15 percent excise tax, while retail customers must pay an additional ten percent sales tax (on top of the state’s existing 2.9 percent sales tax) on any cannabis purchased at a licensed facility. The majority of Colorado voters approved the imposition of cannabis-specific taxes (Proposition AA) in November 2013.
For the month, customers spent an estimated $14 million on the purchase of marijuana and cannabis-infused goods at state-licensed facilities. This figure is anticipated to grow larger as more and more facilities become operational.
State law authorized the retail sale of cannabis beginning on January 1st to those age 21 or older. At that time, only 24 retailers were operational. By month’s end, nearly 60 facilities were up and running. Presently, over 150 licensed facilities are operational.
Similarly licensed retail operations are anticipated to be operational in Washington by this summer.
The Super Bowl bet between Washington and Colorado NORML chapters, along with interviews with NORML board members Rick Steves and Kevin Oliver from Washington, was featured this morning on NBC’s Today Show. Additionally, Marketplace, heard on National Public Radio, also covered NORML chapter wager and the fact that the two teams competing for NFL title are from the states with legal cannabis sales.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bud Bowl. Weed Bowl. Fill a Bowl. Stoner Bowl. Super Stupor Bowl. Whatever you call it, the teams from Denver and Seattle are in it to win it! And so are cannabis consumers! The annual Super Bowl is always a great time for a few friendly wagers, and cannabis consumers are no exception. Happy to uphold this proud tradition, Colorado NORML and Washington NORML have made a little side bet on this historic game:
If the Denver Broncos win, WA NORML has agreed to dress in Bronco colors of blue and orange and sing Karaoke-style Colorado’s (second) official state song "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver. If the Seattle Seahawks win, CO NORML will do the same, but in Seahawk blue and green and singing "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix, a native son of Seattle.
A video of the performance must be posted on the respective state chapter’s web site, Facebook page and on YouTube for a minimum of one week, with an acknowledgment that the winning team’s state is simply awesome.
The unfortunate irony is that, despite the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado, the NFL continues to ban its use among players, although it is not a performance enhancing drug. Both teams have each lost key players this season to marijuana-related suspensions. The Denver Broncos Von Miller, 2011 NFL defensive rookie of the year, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond, and Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner have all received suspensions for failing drug tests.
The NFL would be wise to be more open to marijuana use among players. Its value as a safer treatment than opiates for pain resulting from the brutality of the game, must be acknowledged. With concerns over repeat concussions and the resulting traumatic brain injury to players like Junior Seau, the league should be particularly interested in marijuana’s potential to prevent long-term damage associated with brain injuries. Some NFL players might use cannabis for its medicinal benefits, but others may choose it to unwind as an alternative to alcohol, just as others might drink a beer or a martini. However, cannabis use doesn’t have the same risks associated with mixing prescription drugs, particularly painkillers, and alcohol.
So while we celebrate this historic Super Doobie Bowl, cheering on our respective teams, and laughing about the irony of it all, let’s not forget those players on and off the field whose employers will not allow them to consume a legal substance that has never had an associated death in all of recorded history.
Let the schwag talking begin!
- Rachel K. Gillette, Esq., Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org 303-578-6848
- Teri Robnett, Board Member & Patient Advocate, email@example.com 720-351-8403
- Sean T. McAllister, Esq., Spokesperson, firstname.lastname@example.org 720-722-0048
- Kevin Oliver, Executive Director, email@example.com, 206-641-0935
- Rick Steves (PBS Travel Guide) and Advisory Board Member, 206-641-0935
- Alison Holcomb (I-502 Author) and Advisory Board Member, 206-641-0935
At eight o’clock this morning, Iraq War Veteran Sean Azzariti stepped up to the counter at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver and made the first ever legal marijuana purchase in the United States. He didn’t have to show a medical marijuana program card, proving he paid a fee and consulted a doctor, he simply flashed his driver’s license to confirm he was over 21 and bought his cannabis products. This is a first for Sean, who uses cannabis to treat his PTSD, as his ailment was not an authorized qualifying condition for the Colorado medical marijuana program.
The first purchase? 3.5 grams of Bubba Kush and a marijuana infused truffle. Total cost? 58.74 with tax included ($40 plus tax for the Kush and $9.28 plus tax for the truffle. You can view his receipt he tweeted out here.)
So far, the 34 stores that were open for business today are reporting massive lines, but no real problems. The sky has yet to fall, drivers aren’t crashing continuously into buildings, violence has not erupted in the streets. Maybe it is possible, after decades of scare mongering, that regulation just might be the better alternative after all? The program is still in it’s beginning stages, and will naturally need fine tuning along the way, but so far it is already looking like a widely better solution than prohibition ever was. Judging by the lines that extended far outside the door and around the building at all of the retail locations, Coloradans seem to be very eager to give regulation a chance. Let’s work together to ensure this program works and that it sets the shining example for all other states to follow in the coming years nationwide.
Congratulations to Colorado and all those who worked so hard to get us to this point. It is truly a historic day.
The eyes and ears of the national and international media will be focused on Colorado on New Year’s Day as the nation’s first modern state-licensed retail cannabis dispensaries will be open for business.
Late last week, state and local regulators signed off on the first wave of licensed cannabis businesses, with hundreds more applicants awaiting final approval. (See the actual state-approved marijuana business license via today’s CNN video here.)
The Colorado NORML website has posted a clock counting down the hours and minutes until the nation’s first recreational cannabis sales become reality here. They also provide a statewide list of licensed cannabis retailers, as well as a ‘consumers’ guide’ to complying with Colorado state law here.
Like I told USA Today in its coverage today, “The genie’s out of the bottle and it’s simply not going back in.”