Colorado Has Earned Over $500 Million in Marijuana Revenue Since Legalization

DENVER, CO — Since legal, regulated marijuana sales to adults began in 2014, Colorado has received more than half a billion dollars in marijuana-related revenue, including taxes and fees, according to an analysis of state data released Wednesday by Denver-based VS Strategies.

Since 2014, Colorado has imposed a 15% excise tax on wholesale transfers of marijuana for adult use and a special 10% sales tax on retail sales of recreational marijuana, in addition to the 2.9% state sales tax.  Starting July 1, 2017, marijuana became exempt from the 2.9% sales tax, and the special sales tax was increased from 10 to 15%.  Colorado’s marijuana sales totaled over $1 billion last year alone.

The state also receives application and licensing fees from marijuana related businesses.

The report details the sources of the revenue and provides a snapshot of how it the revenue being distributed across the state:

  • • $117.9 million has been used to fund school construction projects, and an additional $5.7 million has been distributed to the Public School Fund.
  • $5.8 million was allocated for school drop-out prevention programs and bullying prevention and education, plus more than $4.5 million for grants to increase the presence of school health professionals.
  • More than $16 million was allocated for substance abuse prevention and treatment, and $10.4 million was used for mental and behavioral health services.

“Legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adult use has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for Colorado,” says Mason Tvert, who helped direct Colorado’s 2012 voter initiative that legalized marijuana in the state. “Marijuana tax money has been used to improve a wide range of programs and services. It is funding everything from school construction to substance abuse treatment to fighting homelessness. While it might not fix every school or help every person who needs it, it is having a significant and positive impact on our community.”

“We hope lawmakers will continue to distribute these funds responsibly and not lose sight of what voters intended when they opted to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.”

In addition to the half-billion dollars raised at the state level, local governments in Colorado are generating significant annual revenue by levying standard local sales taxes on cannabis products, enacting special cannabis-specific taxes, and collecting local application and licensing fees.

Local communities also receive a portion of the cannabis tax revenue collected by the state government.  The report highlights how a few communities have utilized the added revenue generated by marijuana sales:

  • In June 2017, Pueblo County used $420,000 in local cannabis tax revenue to provide college scholarships to 210 local students.
  • The Aurora City Council allocated $1.5 million in cannabis tax revenue to fight homelessness. Funds are also being used to improve roads and help pay for a new recreation center.
  • The City of Edgewater has used cannabis tax revenue — which accounted for 20 percent of its budget in 2016 — to repave all of its
    streets, fix miles of sidewalks, and help fund the construction of a new city complex.

The full report can be viewed here.

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