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Colorado Made $44 Million From Recreational Marijuana Taxes In 2014


colorado marijuana tax revenueEvery state in America needs more tax revenue. There is literally not one state in the nation that isn’t dealing with some type of budget crunch in some fashion. That’s a big reason why marijuana reform has gained so much momentum in recent years. Marijuana sales are going to occur whether marijuana is legal in a state or not. By legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana, those sales go from occurring in the shadows to occurring at stores where taxes are generated for the states that allow such sales. That’s what happened in 2014 in Colorado, and the state is better off for it. The numbers are in for 2014, and Colorado hauled in a total of $44 million dollars from the recreational marijuana industry. Per The Cannabist:

Colorado finally learned Tuesday how much tax revenue it collected from recreational marijuana in the first year of sales, and the haul was below estimates — about $44 million.

The release of December sales taxes gave Colorado its first full calendar year of the taxes from recreational pot sales, which began Jan. 1, 2014.

Colorado was the first government anywhere in the world to regulate marijuana production and sale, so other governments are watching closely. In Washington, where legal pot sales began in July, the state had hauled in about $16.4 million in marijuana excise taxes by the end of the year; through November, it brought in an additional $6.3 million in state and local sales and business taxes.

I always ask the question ‘why isn’t every state doing this?’ I would assume that the numbers in Colorado will continue to rise in 2015 as the industry continues to expand. Washington State also generated quite a bit of tax revenue in 2014, although it was less than Colorado, mainly because sales didn’t start in Washington until July 2014. Soon Oregon,  Alaska, and hopefully Washington D.C. will start legal sales as well. Other states will see that the sky is still intact over those states, and will have to take a good strong look at following suit.

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Johnny Green


  1. Whyiowa4medical on

    I Agree, but they also released their end of first year Public Health Report as well. I have sent this travesty to Johnny to take a look at. With his devoted readership I would like to see him publish the sour with the sweet as not all info depended on even came from Colorado!!! It is B.S. and I trust Johnny to find a method of letting you know just how much NIDA and National Public Health could begin to destroy cannabis for those watching Colorado, maybe even Colorado!!!

  2. It really is just a slush fund for law enforcement to recoup their black market losses. Ouch. I knew there were going to be serious issues with the first versions of legalization, but I did not know to what extent they would be faulty.

    As we continue down this path of legalization we can only hope other states learn from Washington and Colorado’s mistakes. Additionally, we can hope that the fine people of said states do their best to alleviate themselves of the issues they are facing via a flawed system/law. Unfortunately, working out the kinks is never a short process.

  3. Dispensaries aren’t even allowed across vast swaths of the State — most of it — and all sales outside them are felonies, as is growing seven plants. Never mind the retail market entirely; there’s plenty of cause for pessimism (or at least reflection) in Colorado’s enhanced penalties for cannabis, which range up to a Class 1 felony since SB13-250 was passed in May, 2013 in reaction against the vote of the People to legalize some limited use of cannabis not seven months prior. Please see C.R.S. 18-18-406.

  4. This can be a good thing if Marijuana was legal federally s that these taxes can be used for schools because no matter how you look at it our children is our future what they learn now affects every living thing on this planet. We can have smart educated kids that will improve our world or make it hell. We need better education and better educators. These taxes should be used for schools and not for our politicians or police. If they need a bigger budget they can save money by not arresting and incarcerating people for nonviolent drug offenses.

  5. It goes into the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, which is completely segregated from general revenue. The first three possible recipients named in the bill establishing it are the Executive Branch, prosecutors, and law enforcement, to “study” the effects of supposedly-legal cannabis. I need to track down the precise provenance of the Lifeloc grant, but I believe it was paid by recreational purchasers. It was announced that an appropriation out of the fund would go to hire more school nurses and psychologists (on the theory that they are on the front lines of dealing with adolescents in school who use cannabis), which isn’t all bad, but the Fund is really a slush fund for the prohibitionists.

    P.S. The assumption that tax revenue is going to education is one of many challenges we face in seeking further reform; a 10% excise tax on wholesale transfers of cannabis (from grower to dispensary or infused-products manufacturer) goes for school construction; the much greater revenue from sales tax surcharges levied at retail only on cannabis (State, county, and municipal) do not go for education (Denver claims that telling people it’s illegal to smoke cannabis in public counts as education), and none of the State’s take will fund schools or non-drug-abuse education.

    P.P.S. The retail trade in cannabis and its taxation should be insignificant issues when weighed against the enhanced felonies for cannabis (now up to a Class 1 felony in severity like premeditated murder) passed into law by Gov. Hack and the Colorado General Assembly in May, 2013 in reaction against the decision of the People not seven months prior to legalize some limited use of cannabis. No media have yet disclosed it (which does not mean that I posit conspiracy; it’s more a gestalt of bad assumptions and self-aggrandizement, I suppose). Please review Colorado’s penalties for violating laws relating to cannabis: C.R.S. 18-18-406.

  6. Outside of the minor $250k spent on a tech that likely won’t work, where is the money being used if not on education? Is the money just lingering in a general fund to be siphoned off by corruption as those in power see fit? What is the revenue’s final destination?

  7. What is important to know about the tax revenue is not the amount, but the fact that it derives from an unconstitutional sales tax surcharge that supports the black market and that the revenue cannot by law (see SB14-215) be spent on schools, education, or anything Colorado needs or even wants. Lifeloc Technologies is boasting about having been given $250,000 from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund to develop a breathalyzer for cannabis, which likely will not even result in a useable device, and if it does, will only drive up the already increasing number of false arrests for driving under the influence of cannabis — if you buy recreational cannabis in Colorado, you are supporting Prohibition and prohibitionists! It also bears mentioning that the cannabis-industry has not spent a dime for political education or organization of people who use cannabis here; incredibly greedy and shortsighted!


    Fight SB15-014, a frontal assault on the rights and prerogatives of patients, caregivers, and doctors as guaranteed by Article XVIII, Section 14 of Colorado’s Constitution. Yes, our Constitution supposedly represents the supreme law of the State, but our anti-representatives act directly against it, knowing that their unjust enactments will stand until some victim persuades the courts of their unconstitutionality; so far, Colorado’s dysfunctional legal system has failed to check the scofflaws in the General Assembly at all!

    If you care about our constitutional right to use cannabis as a medicine, demand that its sponsors withdraw SB15-014.

    SB15-014 sponsors:
    State Senator Irene Aguilar: 303-866-4852, irene.aguilar.senate@state.co.us
    State Representative Jonathan Singer: 303-866-2780, jonathan.singer.house@state.co.us

    CORRECTION: The hearing on SB15-014 before Senate Health & Human Services has been rescheduled for 2/26 — details when available.

  8. I’m not as optimistic as you are. I think that unless they lower the taxes on recreational cannabis there will be no increase in consumption
    of the legal stuff. That will be a hard sell to politicians, but the Black Market is definitely still in business, and that’s why the projection of taxes collected wasn’t achieved.

  9. Vested interest in cannabis prohibition is the ONLY reason other states are not reaping tax revenues of this magnitude. The fat cats at the top like things the way they are. WE are going to change that.

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