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Colorado county reports first month’s pot sales tax income

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSFILE - In this Feb. 14, 2014, file photo, pot store employee Sam Walsh informs a first time customer about different strains of marijuana, a white board listing prices and sales tax, inside the retail shop at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced on Feb. 19, 2014 a plan to start spending nearly $100 million in marijuana tax money, the first signal of how much Colorado is reaping from recreational pot sales and what it plans to spend the money on. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2014, file photo, pot store employee Sam Walsh informs a first time customer about different strains of marijuana, a white board listing prices and sales tax, inside the retail shop at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced on Feb. 19, 2014 a plan to start spending nearly $100 million in marijuana tax money, the first signal of how much Colorado is reaping from recreational pot sales and what it plans to spend the money on. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

DENVER >> 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 currently allows recreational pot stores. Its two shops were joined by three more that opened in February.

“We recognize that the eyes of the world are watching us, and we are proud to have erected a robust regulatory environment in Pueblo County,” County Commissioner Sal Pace said in a statement Tuesday.

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 total budget is about $165 million a year.

Colorado has more than 160 licensed recreational pot stores, all of whom had to report sales taxes Feb. 20. Most of the stores are in Denver County, which hasn’t yet reported its January tax haul.

Pueblo County is the first local government to make its recreational marijuana sales tax totals public. Statewide totals are expected early 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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