Legal marijuana businesses in Colorado made more than a billion dollars in sales during the first 10 months of 2016, exceeding sales numbers from last year.
The Cannabist reports:
Recreational and medical cannabis shops in America’s first 420-legal state have sold nearly $1.1 billion of marijuana and related products in 2016, according to the new October data from the state’s Department of Revenue.
When 2015’s year-end marijuana tax data was finally released in February, Cannabist calculations showed $996,184,788 in sales at Colorado marijuana shops that year — spurring a leading industry attorney to tell us at the time, “I think it’s ethical to round that up to a billion.”
That same lawyer, Vicente Sederberg partner Christian Sederberg, celebrated the billion-dollar news on Monday by also pointing to the Colorado cannabis industry’s increasing economic impact and skyrocketing tax revenues for the state as well as numerous cities and counties throughout Colorado.
“We think we’ll see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year,” said Sederberg, “and so the economic impact of this industry — if we’re using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Group’s recent report, which is totally reasonable — it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.”
In addition to creating economic benefits, including state and local tax revenue and thousands of jobs, this legal market is on pace to continue stripping billions of dollars a year from the criminal market.
A portion of the taxes collected from adult retail marijuana sales in Colorado is earmarked for schools under the law, and the amount collected so far this year is already more than was collected in all of 2014.
The Denver Post reports:
In the first five months of 2015, the state’s pot-funded excise tax that collects money earmarked for school construction capital brought in more money than it did in all of 2014. While that specific school tax’s 2015 take may not reach the $40 million number used to lure voters toward the state’s pot-legalizing Amendment 64 in 2012, its recent growth is exciting to lawmakers and industry alike.
“It sounds very encouraging,” said state senator Pat Steadman, D-Denver. “Voters wanted the school capital construction program to benefit, and despite some bumps in the road at the beginning, it looks like what was intended is coming to fruition.”
The money from the excise tax has grown to $3.5 million in May from $2.5 million in March. This year, the excise tax has brought in $13.6 million through May; the same tax drew in just $13.3 million in all of 2014. The jump is partly because there are more marijuana stores and partly because shops benefitted from a one-time tax-exempt transfer.
Hopefully, other states with cash-strapped education systems are taking notice.
Voters in Washington made marijuana legal for adults in 2012, but they could not purchase marijuana in regulated retail stores until mid-2014. Since then, the legal industry has been raking in money for the state, in addition to providing jobs and depriving criminals of profits.
Washington state took in $65 million in tax revenue from the recreational marijuana market during the first 12 months since it became legal to produce and sell, according to data released by state regulators this week.
The revenue was generated by cannabis sales of more than $260 million from June 2014 to June 2015, according to data released by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which oversees the distribution of cannabis.
Retailers sold more than 23,000 pounds of marijuana of the 31,000 pounds produced in Washington during the year, state data showed.
This is just more evidence that shows regulation works.
It’s been exactly six months since legal retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, and today is the first day that retail marijuana business licenses are open to all applicants — not just those who previously held medical marijuana licenses.
Click here for an application checklist and the required application forms. Please note that these licenses would not go into effect until October 1, 2014, and businesses would still require local approval.
In these brief six months, the Centennial State has already experienced overwhelmingly positive results! There has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime from 2013. As of May, the state had collected $10.9 million in taxes from adult use stores alone. The Department of Revenue has licensed nearly 600 retail marijuana businesses — including dispensaries, cultivators, and infused products manufacturers — and 10,043 individuals to work in the industry.
Collateral sectors are also feeling the love, especially in the tourism industry. Colorado ski resorts enjoyed a record-breaking season, with 12.6 million visitors, and 14 million Denver tourists spent an all-time high of $4 billion. More families and businesses are also moving to the Mile High City. In 2013, Denver attracted more sales of single-family homes last year than during the housing boom, and is ranked among the top commercial real estate markets to watch.
On November 5, Colorado passed Prop AA, a measure that outlines the specific taxes to be imposed on the sale of recreational marijuana. The measure works in conjunction with Amendment 64, the ballot measure passed last year that taxes and regulates marijuana for adult use. Prop AA is an important step to establish taxes to fund the regulation of the marijuana industry. Although Colorado has ended their prohibition of marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law. The DOJ announced in July that it will not interfere in Colorado’s implementation of a regulated marijuana industry, but only if it adheres to the regulations set out in Amendment 64 with a fully-funded regulatory body, among other criteria.
In order to pay for regulation and oversight, Prop AA establishes a 15% excise tax imposed on the sale of marijuana from a cultivation facility and a 10% sales tax imposed when a consumer purchases marijuana from a retail store. This tax revenue will allow the state to monitor marijuana sales and implement the regulations set out in Amendment 64. The revenue will also go toward the Building Excellent Schools Today program, which will improve infrastructure, technology, and construction of new facilities for Colorado Public Schools.
Last week, the political blustering of federal lawmakers once again resulted in a law that unfairly targets marijuana users without any proof of effectiveness. On Friday, Congress reached a payroll and benefits deal that allows states to drug test any person applying for unemployment benefits if that person is looking for work in a field where drug testing is commonplace.
Thankfully, states have the option to not take part in this plan. The recent surge in states considering such policies, however, may mean that they may soon become much more common.
Florida’s experience with drug testing people applying for public benefits should have been a wake-up call for lawmakers. After passing a bill requiring unemployment beneficiaries to submit drug tests, Florida authorities soon discovered that not only was drug use extremely rare among those applying for assistance, but drug testing was actually costing the taxpayers more money! The whole point of the law was to decrease costs, so that tough-on-crime politicians could grandstand about how tax dollars in their districts aren’t buying drugs for lazy people.
Congress really needs to stop wasting its time worrying about the tiny percentage of people on public assistance that are marijuana users and instead consider all the taxpayer money they are wasting by arresting people for marijuana use at all.
Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has stated on many occasions that his vocabulary does not include the word “legalization.” Now today, we learn that our nation’s top drug warrior doesn’t know the meaning of the word “prohibition” either.
Sadly, I’m not making this up.
In an online video interview today with the Washington Post, Kerlikowske says the Obama administration is “very much opposed” to taxing and regulating marijuana because—get this—he says the taxes paid on alcohol do not make up for the “criminal justice, health care, [and] social costs” of alcohol consumption. Oh, and he just assumes taxes on marijuana wouldn’t either, though he doesn’t bother to mention the billions of dollars we could save on law enforcement, prison, judicial and environmental costs by calling for an end to the futile and unwinnable war the government wages against our country’s largest cash crop and the millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans who use it.
This bizarre answer prompts Post editor Fred Hiatt, the interviewer, to ask an obvious question: “So … are you looking at the prohibition of alcohol?”
The drug czar chuckles. “No,” he says, “we’re not exploring prohibition.”
Actually, Mr. Kerlikowske, you’re enforcing prohibition (defined as a “law, order or decree that forbids something”). It’s the same prohibition—on marijuana—that the federal government has kept intact for more than 70 years, despite its undeniable failure to meet any of its stated goals, and of which you are now the chief overseer.
Your prohibition, Mr. Kerlikowske, leads to the arrest of more than 750,000 Americans every year, all for mere possession of a substance that is demonstrably safer than alcohol, the very notion of (again) prohibiting you yourself find laughable. Marijuana prohibition, meanwhile, has deprived countless sick people of potentially live-saving medicine, endangered peaceful families in terrorizing and unnecessary SWAT raids that murder their pets, and killed more than 22,000 people in Mexico in less than four years of prohibition-fueled violence.
There’s nothing funny about prohibition, Mr. Kerlikowske. You might want to stop laughing, pick up a dictionary, and think long and hard about what it means.
Yesterday, voters in Oakland, California overwhelmingly approved a proposal, backed by the city's medical marijuana community, that will create a new local sales tax for marijuana. The initiative, "Measure F," was one of four budget-related measures in a vote-by-mail special election called by a city faced with a projected budget deficit of $83 million.
Medical marijuana collectives teamed up with city officials to propose the new tax, set at 1.8% of gross sales. The tax is expected to generate close to $300,000 for the city next year.
It's not every day that an industry stands up and says "tax us more." MPP commends Oakland's four medical marijuana collectives for stepping up to the plate and helping the bridge the city's budget gap.
This is the first time a municipality has levied a special tax on marijuana. For now, the tax will only apply to medical marijuana collectives, but once adult marijuana use is legal in California, it will apply to all sales.
A similar movement to tax medical marijuana sales is also underway in Los Angeles.