We now have real proof that if you legalize, regulate and tax marijuana people will move to this legitimate market. The first official figures from the Colorado Department of Revenue show that during the first month of legal recreational marijuana sales the state generated just over $2 million in revenue from it. The money comes from licensing fees, an excise tax, a special marijuana sales tax, and the regular state sales taxes.
Combined with the revenue generated from medical marijuana taxes and fees the state made just over $3.5 million off marijuana in January. It is worth noting these figures only include revenue that comes directly from marijuana. The state should also generate additional tax revenue from the industry via things like the income tax paid by employees.
It is an impressive haul for recreational marijuana given that relatively few stores were able to open at the start of the year. The numbers are roughly in line with recent expectations.
While marijuana is not never going to completely finance the whole government it is clear that it will be a modest source of funds for Colorado, and legal marijuana could generate much needed cash for other states if they also legalize marijuana.
Every month another state doesn’t adopt marijuana legalization is another month they are denying millions in revenue that could go to programs like eduction or infrastructure improvements. The question for other local politicians isn’t just whether they think marijuana should be legal or not, but whether they believe it is worth forgoing millions every month to keep it illegal.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy