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Recreational pot sales in Nevada topped $35M in February

Updated April 23, 2018 - 6:05 pm

February may be for lovers, but it is also apparently for marijuana, according to the latest state data.

Nevada stores raked in $35.35 million in recreational pot sales during February, marking the third-highest monthly total since recreational marijuana became legal to sell in July.

Bill Anderson, executive director of the Nevada Department of Taxation, said those strong sales numbers can be attributed to a handful of events that occured in February.

“Most notably the Super Bowl,” Anderson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday.

“The industry is impacted by those special kinds of events,” Anderson said. “The marijuana industry has some unique characteristics, and we’re learning those as we move along here.”

In February, the state took in a record $5.95 million in tax revenue from recreational pot sales. 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 stores have sold $263.7 million in recreational pot through the first eight months of legal sales, just about $1 million short of the number the state projected for the first year of sales.

Where’s the cash going?

The state has brought in about $41.9 million of marijuana tax revenue though 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 money gone so far?

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 a law passed during the 2017 legislative session, all that money has gone to the state’s rainy day fund.

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

The rest of the 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. The next $5 million will be split among the local governments. Anything after that goes directly to the state’s general education fund. The state’s budget calls for the wholesale tax to generate approximately $22 million through the first year of sales, which Anderson said looks to be a very reachable goal at this point.

He said the department distributed the $5 million to local governments across Nevada in March, and it plans to send money to the state education fund at the conclusion of the fiscal year on June 30.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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