Seeing Green: Colorado Rakes In $44M In Recreational Weed Sales Taxes
The numbers are in for Colorado's tax revenue after its first full year of selling recreational marijuana.
Since recreational sales began on Jan. 1, 2014, the state has made about $44 million in taxes.
Initial estimates had a target of $70 million, but the Cannabist notes this was merely a guess.
Combining recreational and medicinal revenue results in a total of $76 million for Colorado last year.
Other states with similar laws will take heed of these numbers, though the chances of replication are rather slim, both for better and for worse.
Not only do these states have very different tax rates, but they also aren't expected to benefit from the many visiting customers Colorado received in becoming the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Washington doesn't tax medical marijuana at all, and Oregon and Alaska, which passed recreational legalization last November, will tax marijuana by weight like tobacco, according to Daily Mail.
Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana around the same time in 2012, but Washington didn't begin selling it until last June.
That state made $16.4 million of all marijuana excise taxes, including medicinal, by the end of the year.
Yet for every additional state that legalizes recreational marijuana, revenue in Colorado and Washington is predicted to go down.
Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron said,
Colorado is probably kind of a best-case scenario for pot tax collections. If a number of other states legalize — and two of them already have — then bit by bit, Colorado revenue is likely to decline.
Although other states shouldn't expect similar levels of revenue, Colorado probably had anticipated even more than it garnered. There were numerous regulatory and often unprecedented hurdles preventing 2014 from being an entire year of steady sales for Colorado.
Some dispensaries had to wait months to open their doors in certain municipalities, which may explain why Colorado's first month of legal marijuana produced just $1.6 million in tax revenue.
Democratic Senator Pat Steadman said,
Everyone who thinks Colorado's rollin' in the dough because of marijuana? That's not true.
But for a government that had no knowledge of this market before taking the plunge, it's safe to say 2014 was a damn good year.
And besides, a state's citizens, not its lawmakers, should be the primary concern when it comes to legalization, and no one seems to be complaining from that end just yet.