COLORADO: Excited Coloradans thought legalizing marijuana would mean huge tax revenues. They were hardly alone. Nationwide, with medical marijuana, and especially with recreational, the drum beat has been about money, jobs, real estate upticks, and spillover effects into many fields. The loudest cries of all have been about needed tax revenues that could achieve so much.
The counterpart to legalization efforts has been naysayers worried about public health risks and children. But even some naysayers are influenced by the allure of copious tax revenues. In Colorado, less than a year ago, the governor’s office estimated a $100 million tax haul from recreational marijuana taxes in the first fiscal year. But that was then. In reality, legit sales are slower than expected.
Colorado economists were more conservative than the governor, estimating $67 million in taxes for the year. But recently they revised even that figure downward with a more tepid forecast that calls for $58.7 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana. One of the culprits has surely been the higher taxes that give medical marijuana a far lower price point, even when you factor in the modicum of hassle to buy it. And then there are illegal sales from suppliers who are still in business.