DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Marijuana activists look to Colorado as a true leader, with legalized recreational use and tiered tax models. Coloradans and activists nationwide thought legalizing marijuana would mean huge tax revenues. Nationwide, there is a near intoxication promising money, jobs, appreciating real estate, and tax revenues that could achieve so much for so many.
Naysayers worry about public health risks, especially for young people. Yet even some naysayers find copious tax revenues alluring. In Colorado, the governor’s office estimated it would collect $100 million in taxes from the first year of recreational marijuana. The state’s economists were more conservative, estimating $67 million. They recently revised it downward to call for taxes of $58.7 million from recreational marijuana.
Now, Colorado’s first year tax haul for 2014 recreational marijuana is a disappointing $44 million, causing some to say that Colorado’s marijuana money is going up in smoke. Yet perhaps that is premature. Colorado was first to regulate marijuana production and sale, so other governments are watching closely. Although disappointing, the $44 million is nothing to sneeze at. Colorado also collected sales tax on medical marijuana and various fees, for a total of about $76 million.