Colorado’s Marijuana Tax Revenues Nearly Double Last Year’s Figures

COLORADO: Legal marijuana tax revenues have been breaking records in Colorado this summer, nearly doubling monthly numbers from last year and on pace to exceed projections of legal sales that bring revenue back to the state.

Through the first seven months of this year, Colorado has brought in nearly $73.5m, putting the state on pace to collect over $125m for the year.

In 2014, experts predicted legal cannabis would bring in upwards of $70m to the state’s tax coffers. In reality, the state collected just $44m in marijuana taxes.

Sales totals fell short of projections in 2014, the first year of legalized recreational sales in the state (and the nation) But this year, tax revenue from marijuana sales is exceeding initial projections of $70m.

Marijuana Taxes Won’t Save State Budgets

COLORADO:  Colorado’s marijuana tax collections are not as high as expected.

In February 2014, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office projected Colorado would take in $118 million in taxes on recreational marijuana in its first full year after legalization. With seven months of revenue data in, his office has cut that projection and believes it will collect just $69 million through the end of the fiscal year in June, a miss of 42 percent.

That figure is consequential in two ways. First, it’s a wide miss. Second, compared with Colorado’s all-funds budget of $27 billion, neither $69 million nor $118 million is a large number.

“It’s a distraction,” Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s director of marijuana coordination, says of the tax issue. And despite the marijuana tax miss, overall state revenues are exceeding projections, which may force the state to rebate some marijuana tax receipts to taxpayers.

Colorado’s Tax Income From Legalizing Marijuana Is Less Than Expected, It Still Might Have To Give It Back

COLORADO:  Colorado found out how much tax revenue it brought in from legalizing recreational marijuana — and it is less than expected. The total for the first year of marijuana sales was $44 million, less than projections of $70 million, the state announced Tuesday.

The state of Colorado is still obligated to refund much of that $44 million unless it can persuade voters to let it keep the marijuana taxes. A 1992 amendment made to Colorado’s state constitution, in an effort to reduce government spending, requires new voter-approved taxes to be refunded if the state collects more than is permitted under the law. Colorado’s politicians will vote this spring on a ballot asking voters if the state can hold on to the marijuana tax income.

Sales tax data, released in December, offer a look at Colorado’s first full year of legal pot sales, which began Jan. 1, 2014. The numbers are lower than many expected, and the state has already lowered spending of the taxes on substance-abuse treatment programs and other initiatives funded by the new income.

Governments around the world are closely watching Colorado, which is the first government to regulate the sale and production of marijuana. The numbers, released Tuesday, show that the tax revenue that pot has brought in is significant, but was likely hindered by producers and users who still choose to avoid government costs by trading on the black market.