Colorado High on Marijuana Revenue—Billion-Dollar Industry to Bring State More Than $100 Million in Annual Taxes

Monday, February 24, 2014
Denver store clerk filling a marijuana order (photo: Bob Pearson, EPA)

The legal sale of marijuana in Colorado is bringing a new kind of high to state officials.


In a budget proposal released February 19, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper anticipates the state will collect about $134 million in taxes, according to The New York Times. Much of the money is expected to go toward substance abuse and public health programs.


“This package represents a strong yet cautious first step toward ensuring a safe and responsible regulatory environment,” Hickenlooper wrote in the proposed budget.


The state of Washington, which last year authorized the sale of marijuana for recreational use beginning in June 2014, expects a similar windfall. That state’s officials are planning to collect about $190 million in taxes in the four years beginning in mid-2015, according to the Times.


Critics of legal marijuana say it’s too early to begin celebrating. They say that increased regulation and law enforcement costs could eat away at any increased revenue.


But members of the U.S. House of Representatives have taken note of the possibility of bringing in more money by taxing pot sales on a federal level. A bill was introduced last year that would decriminalize and tax marijuana to help pay for substance abuse programs as well as take a bite out of the national debt. The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013” has been sitting in a subcommittee since then.


Colorado’s windfall was underscored February 20, which was the first day businesses selling marijuana were required to make tax payments. Although the federal government recently relaxed rules that kept some such businesses from using banks, many of the payments were made in cash. Patients Choice, which is a chain of dispensaries, brought about $140,000 under guard to pay various state agencies, according to the Times.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Colorado Expects to Reap Tax Bonanza From Legal Marijuana Sales (by Jack Healy, New York Times)

Colorado stash: $184M in marijuana taxes (by Aaron Smith, CNN Money)

Marijuana Industry Begs to be Taxed (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Taxing Marijuana Would Earn California $1.4 Billion (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


bongstar420 10 years ago
..."to help pay for substance abuse programs" Like this isn't a waste of money based on a series of false assumptions. I wouldn't be bothered with this spending if it wasn't for the fact that the promoters of the anti-drug ideology will be profiting and so will the agencies they hire to spread their word. They should simply institute the income tax structure we had under FDR and stop it with all this sin tax BS. People want sin taxes because they don't want to pay income and property taxes and they have some pressing desire to punish people with higher prices for not doing what they think is healthy or right. Drug addicts do not need to pay higher taxes on drugs for their own treatment. They can simply pay for their own treatment without the inefficiencies of unnecessary third parties. Oh, wait. I forgot. All drug users have to pay for some drug addicts through taxation. Thats what it is. These people seem to think that its wrong for non-drug users to pay for drug addiction treatment while all other responsible drug users are rightfully charged with the funding of treatment for the minority of users who are drug addicts. Like I said...FDR tax structure. EOS

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