Denver takes in over $34M in marijuana sales tax for 2020

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) – Whether you buy a shirt at a boutique or a gram of bud at a Denver pot shop, sales tax goes into a big general fund for the city to spread on different government services. 

A brand new report shows $34.8 million dollars from 2020 marijuana sales tax went into that general fund.

“In some ways, there even is pot for pothole because it even goes to fix streets, goes to libraries and things like that,” Denver’s Excise and Licenses’ Eric Escudero said. “You might not always think you are getting some sort of payback from marijuana legalization but in reality we’re seeing that revenue grow and pay off for many residents.”

Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

  • 204 current marijuana store locations in Denver 
  • 21% increase in medical and retail sales in Denver in 2020 compared to 2019
  • Denver marijuana revenue jumped to $70,354,281 in 2020 compared to $60,036,446 in 2019. That’s an increase of 17%.

Tax Revenue 

  • $10.3 million of 2020 marijuana tax revenue was dedicated to affordable housing in Denver.
  • In 2021, $24.6 million from marijuana-related revenue was appropriated for affordable housing and homelessness services, youth violence prevention, STAR program pilot implementation, leases and other one-time equipment costs.
  • $34.8 million in 2020 marijuana sales tax revenue and licensing fees went into the general fund for a variety of general operating needs (libraries, parks, recreation programs, street maintenance, auditors, attorneys, etc.).
  • Since 2014 Denver has dedicated more than $11 million from the special sales tax on recreational marijuana to fund free after-school and summer programs for youth, with a focus on underserved communities.


  • Burglaries associated with marijuana rose from 122 in 2019 to 175 in 2020. Denver is in the final stages of approving required new safe storage rules for marijuana products, according to the Denver Police.
  • Unlawful public display or consumption of marijuana dropped 372%, from 156 citations in 2019 to 33 in 2020.
  • Overall citations for marijuana related criminal offenses dropped 94% in 2020 compared to 2019.
  • Total marijuana offenses accounts for less than 1% of overall reported offenses in Denver.

New proposed rules that could go into effect on January 1 include:

  • Dispensaries will be required to have at least one safe for marijuana and cash that is secured to the building and located in an area with little access.
  • Products that need to be frozen or refrigerated also must be locked up.
  • Alternative security measures will be required for dispensaries that do not have room to install a safe. This includes; guard posts to keep cars from smashing the building, bulletproof or secure glass, live remote monitoring or video surveillance of the facility with loudspeakers and alarm systems with sirens and strobe lights.
  • Drive thru windows will be required to provide a handheld menu to customers and not have a list of products displayed outside that could be seen by youth.

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