Every state in America needs more tax revenue. There is literally not one state in the nation that isn’t dealing with some type of budget crunch in some fashion. That’s a big reason why marijuana reform has gained so much momentum in recent years. Marijuana sales are going to occur whether marijuana is legal in a state or not. By legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana, those sales go from occurring in the shadows to occurring at stores where taxes are generated for the states that allow such sales. That’s what happened in 2014 in Colorado, and the state is better off for it. The numbers are in for 2014, and Colorado hauled in a total of $44 million dollars from the recreational marijuana industry. Per The Cannabist:
Colorado finally learned Tuesday how much tax revenue it collected from recreational marijuana in the first year of sales, and the haul was below estimates — about $44 million.
The release of December sales taxes gave Colorado its first full calendar year of the taxes from recreational pot sales, which began Jan. 1, 2014.
Colorado was the first government anywhere in the world to regulate marijuana production and sale, so other governments are watching closely. In Washington, where legal pot sales began in July, the state had hauled in about $16.4 million in marijuana excise taxes by the end of the year; through November, it brought in an additional $6.3 million in state and local sales and business taxes.
I always ask the question ‘why isn’t every state doing this?’ I would assume that the numbers in Colorado will continue to rise in 2015 as the industry continues to expand. Washington State also generated quite a bit of tax revenue in 2014, although it was less than Colorado, mainly because sales didn’t start in Washington until July 2014. Soon Oregon, Alaska, and hopefully Washington D.C. will start legal sales as well. Other states will see that the sky is still intact over those states, and will have to take a good strong look at following suit.