Since Attorney General Sessions has started to raise concerns about federal pushback on recreational marijuana legalization, advocates, business owners, and consumers alike are growing worried.
It's been nearly five years since Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize, and since then six other states and the District of Columbia have followed suit. While most states that have legalized recently (within the last election) haven't put together a suitable structure for retail yet; Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have been collecting sales tax on pot for years, and the numbers are nothing but green. Take a look:
The state government had originally projected recreational marijuana sales for 2015-2017 at $10.7MN, with a base tax rate of 17% and a max of 20% depending on city. By August of last year however, the state had made over $25MN in tax revenue and they hadn't even reached the year mark.
Over the last year, they have approved 760 marijuana licenses for retail, and over 9,000 worker permits. They had even outlined where the revenue would go, with 40% going towards funding schools, and 20% going to mental health, alcoholism, and drug services. That's a lot of jobs, a lot of money, and a lot of good.
Colorado has been selling marijuana since 2014, first starting with a 15% tax on wholesale pot and 10% sales tax for retail, with the tax dropping to 8% in July 2017.
Off of licenses and application fees alone, the state made $15.4MN in 2016. In sales tax? The state made a whopping $67MN off of recreational taxes, totally eclipsing their 2014 revenue of $9MN. They differ a large portion of the profits to public school funding.
(credit: Colorado Department of Revenue)
Washington state is a recreational weed success story, with over $255MN in tax revenue obtained for 2016 alone. Overall, customers in the state have purchased over $1BN in the green stuff, leading to the overall total tax collected at $400MN over two years.
So What Does It Mean?
Think of these states as one giant social/fiscal experiment. Their success or failure would have a direct effect on the policies of other states considering to legalize the plant. The numbers show massive tax revenue across the board, and that might be enough to incentivize other states to follow their lead.
With the federal government threatening to cut funding for sanctuary cities, sanctuary colleges, the Arts, education, the EPA and many other areas for a ridiculous defense budget, it seems as if states have a viable solution to some of the loss in capital. Hopefully the upward trajectory cannot be stopped, but if it comes down to it, state government should fight back on federal regulations. Washington has already committed to it.
Do you think recreational marijuana is a good idea? What about marijuana taxes? Let us know in the comments!
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