Colorado Surpasses $1 Billion in Cannabis Tax Revenue
Since legalizing adult-use cannabis in 2014, Colorado has sold $6.5 billion worth of weed, with more than $1 billion of that haul going back to local and state government.
Published on June 13, 2019

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If you want to know what adult-use cannabis legalization could do for your state, look no further than Colorado. According to a new press release from the governor’s office, the Centennial State has now raked in more than a billion dollars from cannabis excise taxes.

First reported by Tom Angell at Forbes, Governor Jared Polis’ announcement said that in the five short years since Colorado legalized recreational pot sales, the state’s 2,917 licensed cannabis businesses have sold some $6.56 billion worth of legal weed, with more than $1.02 billion of that haul going back to the local and state government.

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“This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety, and investing in public school construction,” Governor Polis said.

Of the $1 billion in cannabis excise taxes, 31.7% has been earmarked for human services, 20.7% is being used to boost public health and environment spending, 16.4% will help build schools and benefit other educational causes, 15.5% will support local affairs, while the remaining millions will be used for public safety, agriculture, transportation, and more. 

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And while legalization opponents have long attempted to diminish legal weed revenue as insignificant compared to total state budgets, Brian Vicente, a lawyer and co-author of the state's original cannabis legalization measure, says it’s hard to ignore the money’s potential beneficial implications for Colorado.

“We were never under the illusion that legalization would be a fiscal panacea, but we knew it would have a substantial and positive impact,” Vicente said in press release, according to Forbes. “Funds are being used on everything from building schools to hiring school health professionals and paying for bullying prevention programs.”

But as legalization continues to spread across the nation, Colorado leaders are not ready to step back and become just another face in the crowded cannabis market. Rather, the state has plans to push the local industry as far as possible.

“Today’s report continues to show that Colorado’s cannabis industry is thriving, but we can’t rest on our laurels,” Governor Polis said. “We can and we must do better in the face of increased national competition. We want Colorado to be the best state for investment, innovation, and development for this growing economic sector.”

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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