Nevada pot sales bigger than first months in other states

Associated Press

The first month of legal sales of recreational marijuana in Nevada significantly outpaced the opening month of sales in other states where it's legal for adult use.

The state Department of Taxation says Nevada dispensaries sold $27.1 million worth of pot in July. That compares with about $14 million in each of Oregon and Colorado, and $3.8 million in Washington in the first year of legalized recreational sales in those states.

The combination of a 15 percent wholesale tax and a 10 percent retail tax generated $3.68 million in state tax revenue, Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said Thursday. The numbers are consistent with projections legal pot sales will bring in $120 million over the next two years, she said.

Some of that tax money is headed to the state's rainy day fund this year. But the vast majority going forward is dedicated to schools.

The $120 million projection anticipates $5 million in monthly tax revenue. But Klapstein said officials actually projected zero revenue for July because of uncertainty surrounding licensing and local zoning ordinances.

"I'd discourage anyone from dividing up the total projections by month," Klapstein said. "The numbers are good. There's nothing to suggest we are not on track with the biennial projections."

The ballot measure Nevada voters approved last November legalizing pot required retail, wholesale and distribution licenses to be issued by Jan. 1, 2018.

But Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed in January — and the Nevada Legislature approved — an "early-start" program to launch sales in July, the first month of the state's fiscal year.

"That allowed us to start getting the revenue right at the beginning of the biennium," Klapstein said. "We think those wholesale numbers will continue to go up."

The state has now licensed 53 retail stores, 92 cultivation operations, 65 manufacturers, nine testing labs and 31 distributors. Four-fifths of the 250 total license facilities are in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County, the department said.

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