Prices, taxation hinder legal purchase of recreational marijuana

Various types of weed are on display at the Terrapin Care Station, located at Folsom Street and Canyon Boulevard. (Carolyn Davidson/CU Independent)
Various types of weed are on display at the Terrapin Care Station, located at Folsom Street and Canyon Boulevard. (Carolyn Davidson/CU Independent)

Editor’s note: Names have been removed to provide anonymity. 

Article 18, Section 16 of the state constitution, previously known as Amendment 64, allows Colorado residents 21 and over to legally purchase recreational marijuana. But in addition to its age limit, the drug’s taxation and subsequent prices have deterred some from obtaining it legally, instead choosing to go about doing so the old-fashioned way: through a dealer.

Marijuana purchases carry a 25 percent tax rate, and medical and illegal avenues often provide cheaper alternatives. The taxation, comprised of a 15 percent excise tax, a 10 percent sales tax and revenue funding construction of public schools, is expected to generate $70 million in 2014.

Recreational prices are typically more expensive than medical dispensaries and illegal “street” prices. Local medical dispensaries charge around $20 for an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, while recreational costs are over double that price, averaging around $65 including taxes. Marijuana purchased illegally from dealers is not subject to taxation.

Despite recreational sales exceeding $5 million within the first week of legalization, some CU students have voiced a reluctancy to go through that channel.

“I don’t think anyone who’s an avid smoker would change from going to a dealer to going to a store,” said a 19-year-old sophomore international affairs major.

“I buy from a dealer because it’s easier that way,” said a 22-year-old senior economics and communications major.

No recreational shops have opened in Boulder since state legalization, but the county has been regulating the licensing of recreational stores. Businesses must establish whether their shop will “co-locate,” or sell both medical and recreational marijuana. If so, there must be two distinct entrances and sections of stores that co-locate. These complicated licensing and construction procedures have slowed the opening of recreational shops. Terrapin Care Station, at 1795 Folsom St., will be the first recreational dispensary to open its doors in Boulder, on Feb 18.

A 23-year-old recent CU graduate and campus employee said he probably won’t go to recreational dispensaries once they open in Boulder because he’s comfortable with his current system of purchasing marijuana.

“I get my weed from one of my friends because it’s convenient and cheap,” he said. “[The legalization] hasn’t really affected me.”

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Taylor Charette at

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Holly Evans at

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