Colorado Just Exceeded $1-Billion Tax Revenue Since Marijuana Was Legalized

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Silverpeak dispensary in Aspen. Credit: ARI BURACK/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER

The state of Colorado has now generated in excess of $1-billion in total state revenue from the legal marijuana industry. The state’s legal pot sales revenue doubled from the $500 million mark to $1 billion took less than two years. Achieving that first $500 million took almost three and a half years.

Colorado’s $6.5 billion cannabis industry now has almost 3,000 licensed marijuana businesses and has created jobs for the more than 40,000 people who are licensed to work in them

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told CNBC, “It’s going very well. … It’s creating tens of thousands of jobs, tax revenue for the state, filling up buildings for landlords and reducing crime. … Although I like to tell my peer governors in other states ‘It’s not going well, don’t do it.’ There is obviously more advantage to us when we are all a little bit more special, and obviously more and more states are moving in this direction.”

In Colorado, a 15% percent excise tax is levied on recreational cannabis when it is sold from a cultivation facility to a store or manufacturer. Retail pot purchasers then must pay a 15% tax when they get to the counter. The marijuana tax cash fund must be used for health care, health education, substance abuse prevention, and treatment programs, and law enforcement explains the Colorado Sun. Here’s where all that money has been spent since 2014, broken out by category:

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Where do Colorado marijuana tax dollars go? Credit: Colorado Department of Revenue

Illinois recently became the 11th U.S. state to approve cannabis for recreational adult use, joining the state of Washington, Alaska, Colorado, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Michigan, and Nevada. Washington, DC, also has legal marijuana sales. The Illinois law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. More than 30 states already have medical marijuana use. The recreational marijuana industry in California is struggling to compete with the black market, missing sales and tax expectations.