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Colorado Has Brought in a Cool Half-Billion in Cannabis Taxes

Published on July 19, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Marijuana buds and a large stack of 100 US dollar money notes isolated on white background.

With legal, regulated markets in legal states continuing to grow, it can sometimes feel like sales records are broken every week. But the latest report out of Colorado marks a milestone, as the state has now made more than half a billion dollars in cannabis-related tax revenue since legal adult sales began in 2014.

Colorado cannabis revenues come from a combination 15% excise tax on wholesale transfers, a 10% special tax on retail sales for recreational use, and an additional 2.9% state sales tax put on both adult-use and medical marijuana.

According to state data analyzed by Denver-based VS Strategies, the majority of the more than $500 million dollars received by the state has gone to fund school projects: $117.9 million was used to fund school construction, while an additional $5.7 million was put into the Public School Fund.

The money is also helping fund after-school programs and related initiatives, with $5.8 million allocated to programs aimed at preventing dropping out and bullying. More than $16 million was spent on substance abuse prevention and treatment, with another $10.4 million used for mental and behavioral health services.

Leafly has already reported on the success seen in the state’s Pueblo County, which used $420,000 in local cannabis tax revenues to provide college scholarships to 210 graduating high-school students.

Colorado State University-Pueblo has also seen benefits. The university opened an Institute of Cannabis Research using cannabis tax dollars.

Mason Tvert, a former Marijuana Policy Project staffer who now serves as the communications vice president for VS Strategies, said that he hopes lawmakers continue to see the cannabis industry as a legitimate economic engine.

“We hope lawmakers will continue to distribute these funds responsibly and not lose sight of what voters intended when they opted to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol,” said Tvert, who was the a campaign co-director for Amendment 64, which legalized adult-use cannabis in the state.

So far in 2017, Colorado cannabis sales have continued at a good clip. The state has seen over $100 million in cannabis sales each month since the year began. The state’s best month so far was March 2017, with the state recording $127 million in sales—the highest monthly figure yet.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
View Gage Peake's articles
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