Recreational pot sales in Nevada show strength

Updated April 23, 2018 - 4:32 pm

February is for lovers.

And also apparently for marijuana, according to the latest data from the state.

Despite it being the shortest month of the year, Nevada stores raked in $35.35 million in recreational pot sales during February, marking the third highest monthly sales total since recreational marijuana became legal to sell last July.

February also marked the highest total tax revenue brought in by the recreational market since sales began on July 1, with the state reporting $5.95 million.

About $3.5 million of that came from the 10 percent excise tax on retail pot sales, while the rest came from the 15 percent tax on wholesale cannabis.

In total, Nevada has sold $263.7 million in recreational pot through the first eight months, just about $1 million short of the number the state projected for the entire first year of sales.

“The overall revenue picture is strong and, if it continues the path it is currently on, we can expect to see end-of-year revenue totals that substantially exceed expectations,” Department of Taxation Director Bill Anderson said in a statement.

Where’s the pot money is going?

The state has brought in about $41.9 million worth of marijuana taxes through February, which is about 83 percent of the $50.3 million the state projected for the first full year of sales.

But where exactly has that $42 million gone so far?

First, we need to split that number into its two sources since they are distributed differently.

About $26.4 million of the tax revenue has come from the special 10 percent tax on all recreational marijuana purchases in the state. Because of the law passed during the 2017 Legislature, all of that money has gone to the state’s rainy day fund.

There has been an increased push, most notably from state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, to direct that money to the school districts to help fill their budget deficits. But from most indicators, including comments from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office, the decision about where that money ends up likely won’t come until the 2019 Legislature takes up the debate.

The rest of the total tax revenue, about $15.5 million, comes from the 15 percent tax on the wholesale marijuana for both medical and recreational marijuana.

The first portion of that goes to the Tax Department to fund the cost of administering the marijuana program. From there, the next $5 million is dedicated to be split up among the local governments. Anything after that goes directly to the state’s general education fund.

The Tax Department said it distributed that $5 million to local governments across Nevada in March, and that it plans to send the money to the state education fund at the conclusion of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30.

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