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Week in Review: Denver Hits Half-Billion Mark in Cannabis Taxes

Denver cannabis tax
PHOTO Evgeniy

Current Events

Week in Review: Denver Hits Half-Billion Mark in Cannabis Taxes

ICYMI: Catch up on the week’s latest news from across the cannabis spectrum.

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, Denver hits half-billion mark in cannabis taxes and fees; New York cannabis office releases fact sheet to bust cannabis and fentanyl myths; cannabis use common for work-related injury recovery in Canada, declines in US workers’ compensation filings following legalization; and Cann launches in DTLA Soho House.

Denver cannabis tax
PHOTO Cris Gonzales

Denver Hits Half-Billion Mark in Cannabis Taxes and Fees

It’s reported that Denver has surpassed $500 million in cannabis tax revenue, a milestone reached in August 2023. The city’s Excise & Licenses department began tracking cannabis tax revenue in 2010 when medical dispensaries were first licensed. However, collections were modest at first, only totaling $26.2 million from 2010-13.

In 2014, when adult use cannabis sales began in the Centennial State, Denver’s tax revenue skyrocketed. That year, the city collected $23.8 million in cannabis tax revenue and licensing fees. The number has increased steadily ever since, reaching a record $72.9 million in 2021.

Dispensary sales in Denver have mirrored the growth in tax revenue. The city increased its special sales tax on adult use cannabis purchases from 3.5 to 5.5% in 2018 to help fund affordable housing programs. An adult use dispensary purchase in Denver now carries a 26.41% sales tax rate, including the state’s 15.5% cannabis sales tax, Denver’s standard municipal sales tax and the city’s special taxes on retail cannabis.

Cannabis tax revenue has been used to fund a variety of programs and services in Denver, including affordable housing, homelessness services, small business investments, youth intervention, legal cannabis enforcement and public safety campaigns.

Denver is expected to collect around $56.2 million in cannabis tax revenue in 2023, down from nearly $73 million in 2021. This decline is due to a dip in the Colorado cannabis industry as a whole. However, Denver remains home to some 200 individual dispensaries and more than 300 registered growing operations.

First Dispensary Opens New York
PHOTO Tony Wiek

New York Aims to Bust Cannabis and Fentanyl Myths

The New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has released a two-page report to dispel ongoing myths about cannabis and fentanyl, including the claim that fentanyl is contaminating cannabis.

The report, titled “Cannabis and Fentanyl: Facts and Unknowns” found that “anecdotal reports of fentanyl ‘contaminated’ cannabis continue to be found to be false.” The OCM also noted that there are no reliable methods of testing fentanyl on cannabis flower. While fentanyl test strips can be used to test other substances for fentanyl, they are not designed for cannabis flower, which is not water-soluble.

The OCM stated that there have been zero verified incidents of fentanyl contamination in cannabis and that no one has died from cannabis contaminated with fentanyl. However, the report did warn that there are many unknowns about the possibility of fentanyl contamination in cannabis and that unregulated cannabis products may contain harmful contaminants or inaccurate labelling. The OCM recommends buying legal cannabis products to ensure that they have been tested in a lab and do not contain any harmful contaminants.

PHOTO dusanpetkovic1

A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health found that nearly one-quarter of Canadians with a painful work-related disability use cannabis during their recovery. The study, which surveyed 1,650 disabled adults, found that 22.4% of those who suffered from a work-related injury that involved “severe pain symptoms” used cannabis as part of their treatment.

The study also found that 11.5% of all disabled employees reported using cannabis to manage conditions associated with work-related injury. This finding is consistent with prior studies and suggests that cannabis use is common among those recovering from work-related injuries.

Interestingly, the study found that cannabis users did not differ from their non-using peers with respect to their disability expenditures or health care benefit expenses. This suggests that cannabis use does not have a significant impact on the cost of disability benefits or health care.

The study’s authors concluded that their findings “contribute information to support decision-making among clinicians and disability insurance authorities on the potential benefits and risks associated with cannabis use in settings that have legalized cannabis use.”

By contrast, US data reports declines in the number of workers’ compensation filings following the adoption of either medical cannabis legalization or adult-use legalization. This suggests that cannabis use may lead to fewer workplace injuries and less reliance on workers’ compensation benefits.

State courts in the US have issued contradictory opinions regarding whether medical cannabis-related costs are eligible for reimbursement under workers’ compensation laws. Six states—Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania—currently allow for reimbursements. By contrast, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio and Washington expressly prohibit workers’ compensation insurance from reimbursing medical cannabis-related costs. Other states are silent on the issue.

PHOTO Cameron Quigley

Cann Becomes the First THC-Beverage Brand on the Menu at a Soho House

The popular cannabis-infused social tonic Cann is now available on the menu at Soho House in DTLA, making it the first cannabis beverage to be served at the exclusive social club. Cann is a microdosed, non-alcoholic beverage that delivers a perfect, uplifting buzz with a strength similar to a beer or glass of wine. It’s vegan, gluten-free and low in calories and each Cann has five all-natural ingredients.

To celebrate the launch of Cann at Soho House, the brand hosted a launch event on October 20. The evening was filled with an “uplifting, euphoric buzz without the buzzkill,” and featured special guests House of Avalon, who’ve been long-standing supporters of Cann and featured in their various campaigns, including for Gay Pride.

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