by Dr. Diesel (I’m not really a doctor, though I play one in this column)
Hey Dr. D: Why is recreational weed so much more expensive than medical marijuana? -Steve
Dear Steve: It’s all about government. Retail marijuana is taxed at a higher rate than medical marijuana. The “excise” tax is a hidden tax, often generally referred to as “sin” tax, and is included in the price of the product. Sin tax is applied to many luxury goods and societally undesirable items such as alcohol and tobacco. Colorado charges a 15% excise tax for all quantities of marijuana transferred from production to retail.
Most retailers are also growers for their own shops. They are assigned a tax value for their marijuana as it moves from their grow houses to their shops of about $2000 per pound. So, each pound of marijuana is taxed at $300. This only applies to recreational pot, not medical. Additionally, Colorado has a state sales tax of 2.9% on all non-grocery products and another 10% for retail marijuana. Add city sales tax in Fort Collins of 7.85% and you can see why this game is so lucrative for The Man! And yes Steve, if you want to smoke the good stuff you gotta pay out the hiney dude.
Hey Dr. D: I’m havin’ a rippin house party and I want to make sure I stock up on the best chronic around. How much can I buy at a time, and where can I get it? -Cheba
Dear Cheba: First of all, you must be 21 with a Colorado State issued ID (no, not your CSU student ID) to purchase retail pot. Legally, you are only allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, so retailers can only sell you up to one ounce of weed per purchase. If you are not a resident of Colorado, you may only obtain a quarter of an ounce per purchase.
So you may be thinking, oh I can get around that easy enough! I’ll just go to every shop in town and buy one ounce, and then I’ll have… Well, you’ll only have one ounce Cheba, because there is only one retailer in Fort Collins city limits right now, Organic Alternatives on Mountain Ave. And, although they are not required by law to track customers, most retailers do by swiping your ID into their system. An ounce oughtta do, no?
Please post your questions about all thing marijuana in the State of Colorado on the Scene Magazine of Northern Colorado’s Facebook page.