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Not As Many People Buying Recreational Pot As Predicted

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Sales tax revenue on recreational marijuana in Colorado is down compared to early projections.

Total tax revenue on recreational pot is 13 percent below state estimates which means Colorado is bringing in nearly a half a million dollars less.

"We're not seeing number of individuals using recreational marijuana that everybody originally thought we would. So because of that it's very difficult to budget as to how do we spend dollars we don't know whether we will or won't," said State Rep. Geri Gerou.

Not only are sales lower than projected but so are the number of business approved to sell it.

The state expected to approve 110 businesses in the first month but only 59 were approved as of Feb. 1.

"They missed the mark and so the volatility, the unpredictability of this revenue stream is one of the reasons why I think it's the prudent and responsible policy for us to spend these moneys in rears looking at last year's actual collection," said Sen. Pat Steadman.

Meaning that they won't spend money they don't have yet except this year.

The budget committee will create a mini-budget for the tax dollars collected in the first six months, an estimated $20 million.

That's far below the $54 million Gov. John Hickenlooper budgeted for.

The committee plans to put much of the money toward prevention programs to protect kids.

However, the legislature will have the final say.

"If there's going to be amendments and feeding frenzies and shopping sprees and lots of lobbying that takes place around this so be it," said Steadman.

The taxes on recreational marijuana may have to be reduced because of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

If tax revenue surpasses the $67 million voters approved, the chair of the budget committee told CBS4 the state has three choices.

"There's a chance we'll either have to refund those dollars back to voters, we will have to go back to the voters to ask to hold on to the dollars or the third option is we may have to reduce the high level of tax," said Rep. Crisanta Duran.

Lawmakers are waiting to make a decision after they know the tax revenue for March.

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