City releases numbers singling out marijuana dispensary sales from liquor store sales

A growing number of marijuana dispensaries in the city of Aspen generated $6.74 million in taxable retail sales in the year between May 2014 and May 2015, according to numbers released this week by the city of Aspen.


“In total, marijuana sales are roughly 1 percent of all city retail sales, though this percentage varies by month due to periods of high visitation,” city of Aspen assistant finance director Pete Strecker wrote in an email.


The city previously did not report taxable retail sales data solely for pot shops, as state laws protecting taxpayer confidentiality prevent disclosure of revenue data from a single business category unless there are at least three operators in that segment and none of them represent more than 80 percent of the market. Starting in the middle of last year, marijuana sales were reported together with liquor store sales but the city did not distinguish between the two.


While medicinal marijuana has been available in Aspen for five years, the city’s first shop selling pot to the general public — Silverpeak Apothecary — opened for recreational sales in March 2014.  


The Green Dragon opened a recreational dispensary in April of 2014 and was followed by Alternative Medical Solutions offering recreational product in the spring. Another long-time medical dispensary, LEAF, followed in September by converting to retail, and Native Roots and Stash opened their doors in the city in January, bringing total pot shops to six.


Based on the gross revenue, Aspen’s 2.4 percent sales tax  generated $161,887 for city coffers from pot over that May-to-May timeframe.


For comparison’s sake, 2014 saw a total of $13.36 million in total taxable sales attributed to a combination of pot shops and the town’s five liquor stores.


In 2013, prior to marijuana’s entry to the marketplace, taxable liquor store sales came to $8.97 million.


The city of Glenwood Springs recently released sales data for its three pot shops, which in the eight months since the first operator opened in May 2014 generated $2.96 million in gross taxable revenue. Glenwood’s pot shops are projected to bring in $5.8 million for 2015, according to city finance officials, although that number is based on limited data and could change. That’s compared to Glenwood’s 10 or so liquor stores, which are projected to generate $9.1 million in taxable sales this year.


Aspen attorney Lauren Maytin, who represents multiple clients in Colorado’s pot industry, reflected on Aspen’s taxable retail sales number and said that it’s “decent for the few shops we have.” She said Aspen is a high-demand market, given the seasonal tourist influx.


City of Aspen finance director Don Taylor said the city does not plan to include line-item data on taxable retail sales solely for pot shops in its monthly consumption tax reports because the numbers are “too small to bother with,” he wrote in an email.


Through May of 2015, all taxable sales in Aspen are up 9 percent, reaching $279.69 million. Liquor and marijuana contributed $7.23 million to that total for the first five months of the year, and $713,000 in May.