The marijuana industry has proved profitable for one of the first states willing to test legalization. According to ABC 7 News Denver, marijuana tax revenues are up “nearly 100 percent” from last year in Colorado. It's a win for marijuana advocates after relatively low numbers following the first year of legalization.
Revenue in Denver County reached $1.5 million this May, compared to $954,000 last year. Revenue in Boulder County increased from $194,000 in 2014 to $366,000 in 2015. Throughout the state overall, revenue increased from $25 million in 2014 to $44 million in 2015. The law has been in effect for just a year and a half, but tax revenue has already almost doubled from the first reports.
The legalization effort, once deemed controversial, seems to be having a positive effect on the state. The Colorado Dept. of Revenue estimates $23 million in tax revenue will be allocated to public schools in the state. The remainder of the revenues is given to the state’s general fund or cities that have dispensaries.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has embraced marijuana legalization. “The people who were smoking marijuana before legalization still are. Now, they’re paying taxes,” he said to USA Today. Taxing marijuana for government revenue has long been considered a viable option for both reducing the unnecessary imprisonment of nonviolent drug users and raising money for states in financial trouble. Colorado’s success could be viewed as a model for the other states that have legalized recreational marijuana — Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. At some point, the legalization approach may be adopted at the federal level.