Colorado Department of Revenue’s latest report indicates that Colorado has collected $117 million in marijuana tax revenue since legalizing marijuana in 2014. Washington added another $83 million to the tab. These numbers don’t include sales tax, jurisdictional taxes, fees and licensing costs. A portion of the money will go to help schools and cannabis policy.
J. Skyler McKinley is deputy director of the Office of Marijuana Coordination in Colorado. “Our philosophy has been that marijuana pays its own way,” McKinley told Huff Post. “Every dime we bring in from legalization is dedicated to the cost of legalization. That’s regulatory framework first, then public education campaigns about safe and responsible use and then prevention and treatment programs.”
Excessive tax revenue is just a bonus from legalizing recreational cannabis. “The big lesson we tell other states is you probably shouldn’t legalize marijuana if you want to make money — that’s not why you do it,” McKinley added. “You do it because you think that a regulated marketplace might be safer than an unregulated marketplace or you believe that the war on drugs didn’t work.”
Where does the money go? Ken Huber of the Department of Education said marijuana taxes have generated $23.9 million for the Building Excellent Schools Today(BEST) in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Colorado cannabis taxes also paid for $8 million in cannabis research.
Washington is generating more tax dollars for cannabis policy reform, but is helping schools as well. Adam Darnell is studying the effects of legalization for the Washington Institute for Public Policy. Washington has yet to develop a tighter program. Darnell told Huff Post “Some of these effects, to actually resolve at the population level, take a little time to unfold.” Colorado and Washington, and soon Oregon, are starting to view cannabis like any other taxable commodity.