County reports first pot taxes

2/27/2014

DENVER (AP) — A southern Colorado county with two recreational marijuana stores has become the first in the state to announce tax totals from the new industry.

DENVER (AP) — A southern Colorado county with two recreational marijuana stores has become the first in the state to announce tax totals from the new industry.

Pueblo County finance authorities announced Monday that its two shops had about $1 million in total sales in January, producing about $56,000 in local sales taxes.

Pueblo County is the only place between Denver and the New Mexico state line that allows recreational pot stores. Its two shops were joined by three more that opened in February.

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz projected the marijuana industry will generate roughly $670,000 in new tax revenue for his county this year. The money is a combination of a 3.5 percent pot sales tax approved by county voters last year, as well as "share-backs" from the state on general and pot-specific sales taxes.

If Pueblo's sales continue at the January pace, the county's pot industry will make about $11.2 million in gross sales in 2014, Ortiz projected. The county's budget is about $165 million a year.

Colorado has more than 160 licensed recreational pot stores that were to report sales taxes Feb. 20. Most are in Denver County, which hasn't yet reported its January tax haul.

Pueblo County is the first to make its recreational marijuana sales tax totals public. Statewide totals are expected next month. Pueblo officials joked about the pot tax haul Monday in a county finance meeting.

"The irony is that the only new revenue we have coming in is in marijuana, and yet we have to open a new judicial building," Commissioner Liane "Buffie" McFadyen quipped, according to a report Tuesday in The (Pueblo) Chieftain.

County Budget and Finance Director Cal Hamler replied, "We're going to have to sell more weed."

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Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt

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