The town of Carbondale’s proclivity for medical marijuana appears to be waning with the number of dispensaries and pot sales dropping by nearly half since 2010.
The number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Carbondale has gone from a dozen last year to only four currently reporting sales, according to the town’s finance director, Nancy Barnett.
This year, two Carbondale dispensaries closed — one in February and another in March — and the 3.5 percent city sales tax on marijuana products has brought in only $18,000 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1. In 2011, the town garnered $35,000 in tax revenues from $1 million worth of marijuana products sold. Most of the dispensaries closed due to a lack of business, Barnett said.
The reduction in revenues from marijuana sales likely won’t have a major impact on the town’s budget however, because this year total sales tax revenues show the first significant gain since 2009, Barnett said. Revenues through October are up 5.85 percent, compared to the same time last year, she said. Overall, 2011 revenues increased 1 percent from the previous year. Prior to that, city sales tax revenue was on the decline. Barnett said she doesn’t know what caused the recent change.
The drop in pot sales is a stark contrast to just two years ago when Carbondale’s medical marijuana industry peaked. In 2010, the town’s sales tax garnered $47,000 from $1.34 million in medical marijuana sales, according to Barnett. With a population of 6,427 recorded in the 2010 census, that theoretically could have had each Carbondale resident spending $208 a year on marijuana products.
Carbondale paved the way for the Roaring Fork Valley’s pot industry since the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memorandum stating that its officials would not prosecute growers who were operating within Colorado’s medical marijuana laws. The first dispensary in the valley was Carbondale’s Colorado Mountain Dispensary (C.M.D.), which opened in July of 2009.
The Carbondale Board of Trustees will consider a nine-month moratorium on new proposals for medical and retail marijuana shops at a meeting on Dec. 11. The moratorium is a response to Colorado voters approving on Nov. 6 a state constitutional amendment to legalize the recreational use of pot by anyone over 21.
The board is considering the moratorium as part of an ordinance that also could restrict Carbondale medical marijuana centers from growing to the point where they become regional distribution centers, and prevent them from converting to retail outlets.
Colorado state legislators have to craft commercial pot regulations, which will go into effect in January 2014, and voters must approve a tax on the substance before marijuana can be sold in retail shops. The voter-approved amendment directs state lawmakers to tax the drug up to 15 percent, with the first $40 million going to school construction.