Colorado: Regulated Marijuana System Generated More Than $135 Million In Revenue For State
Revenue Includes More Than $35 Million for School Construction Projects
Total revenue raised from 2015 surpassed original projections and far exceeded the costs associated with regulating the system
Colorado’s regulated marijuana system generated more than $135 million in revenue for the state in 2015, including more than $35 million for school construction projects, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
There were just under $588 million in adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado from January-December 2015, producing approximately $109.1 million in tax revenue in addition to $4.7 million in license and application fees. The state’s regulated medical marijuana system produced more than $11.4 million in tax revenue and $9.8 million in license and application fees.
In 2014, the state’s regulated marijuana system raised just over $76.1 million in total revenue, including about $56.2 million from adult-use marijuana tax revenue and fees and $19.9 million in medical marijuana tax revenue and fees.
“There are hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales taking place in every state,” said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Colorado is one of the few where those sales are being conducted by licensed, taxpaying businesses.”
Adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado are subject to the state’s standard 2.9 percent sales tax, plus a 10 percent special state sales tax. Additionally, wholesale transfers of adult-use marijuana are subject to a 15 percent state excise tax.
The first $40 million raised annually by the 15 percent excise tax is earmarked for public school construction projects. The excise tax raised just over $35 million in 2015, up from about $13.3 million in 2014.
“These tax revenue figures are truly impressive,” Tvert said. “Just six years ago, Colorado received zero dollars in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana in the state. Now it’s raising more than $100 million annually with tens of millions of dollars directed toward public school improvements.
“The additional tax revenue far exceeds the cost of regulating the system,” Tvert said. “Regulating and taxing marijuana has been incredibly successful in Colorado, and it represents a model for other states to follow.
"These numbers should put to rest the claims we keep hearing from opponents that marijuana tax revenue has fallen short of expectations in Colorado,” Tvert said.
Graphic: Marijuana Packaging