The Colorado State of US collected roughly $2m in taxes from marijuana businesses in January, as reported by the state revenue officials in the world’s first accounting of the recreational pot business. In 2013, Colorado legalized pot and became the first US state to legalize recreational marijuana, but the commercial sale began this January.
The total tax collected from sales of recreational pot was around $14m from 59 marijuana firms as reported by the state Department of Revenue. Including the medical marijuana firms, the state collected a total of $3.5m.
Firms around the city of Denver, where the cannabis industry is currently concentrated, were the foremost contributors of the tax revenues. Colorado’s figures are being closely watched by many other US states; Washington has also just given consent to legalize sales of cannabis in the State, and many others are expected to follow the suit over the coming months.
John Hickenlooper, Colorado Governor proposed a plan according to which money is reserved for substance abuse treatment, youth prevention services, and public health. An intense lobbying was seen after Monday’s tax release over how the pot money should be spent. The marijuana industry, for several years, is expected to be extremely volatile by budget-writers. Colorado has the world’s first fully regulated market of recreational marijuana and is also being watched by other countries. The marijuana program of Uruguay is still under development. Netherlands does not allow distribution or growing of pot, but has legal sales of pot.
About 160 recreational marijuana stores, which are state-licensed, are there in Colorado. Some stores could not open in January because of some state licensing issues. The sale of medical marijuana is being allowed by 20 US states, including Washington DC at present. Pat Oglesby, a former congressional tax staffer and currently studying tax potential of marijuana at Chapel Hill, N.C., Center for New Revenue said as new stores open and more wholesale taxes are paid by marijuana sellers, the pot sale of Colorado, in future months, could grow dramatically.
The Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights- Colorado’s unique budget constraints further complicate state’s pot revenue picture. For tax increase, the Bill of Rights requires voter approval and if these taxes earn more than the posted figure, the budget-writers are limited by it. A briefing has been planned by the Joint Budget Community of Colorado with lawyers to take their opinions for spending extra pot taxes.