January 12, 2015

Colorado raked in $60 million in marijuana taxes and licensing fees in the past year, plus saved most if not all of the $145 million the Harvard report estimated it spent each year fighting marijuana - PolitiFact rating: True

The debate over the legalization of marijuana is a lively one, with strong opinions on either side.
In a recent commentary in The Providence Journal, James Aubin, the founder of pro-legalization group Common Sense Citizen, argued for the legalization of  marijuana in Rhode Island, saying it could boost the state’s sagging economy.
He included an impressive statistic about the revenue Colorado was bringing in from marijuana sales.
"Colorado raked in $60 million in marijuana taxes and licensing fees in the past year, plus saved most if not all of the $145 million the Harvard report estimated it spent each year fighting marijuana," Aubin wrote in the Jan. 5, 2015, piece.
(The Harvard report he mentioned was "The Budgetary Implications of Drug Prohibition," a 2010 study by professor Jeffrey Miron. He estimated that Rhode Island spends $40 million annually fighting marijuana.)
We decided to focus on the first half of his statement, dealing with Colorado revenue.
We asked Aubin where he got his numbers. He responded that he relied on the State of Colorado's Department of Revenue, as well as a story from Channel 7-KMGH, the Denver ABC News affiliate.
We pulled Colorado’s tax records ourselves. We added up the monthly figures, from Jan. 1, 2014, when the first recreational marijuana stores opened, through Oct. 31, the most recent report.
We determined that the state’s total marijuana tax revenue was about $60 million.
The revenue comes from a 2.9-percent retail and medical marijuana sales tax; a 10-percent retail marijuana special sales tax; and a 15-percent marijuana excise tax, plus application and license fees for retail and medical marijuana.
In other words, Aubin got his number right. We were curious about where the money went.
Colorado tax records show that a portion of the revenue from marijuana retail sales  is distributed to local governments where stores are located, including Denver and the ski resort towns of Breckenridge and Telluride, based on tax revenue brought in from marijuana sales in those communities. Denver, for example, received $128,586.
Most of the money goes into the state general fund. But voters dedicated the first $40 million in excise taxes annually to a statewide school construction fund, administered by the state Department of Education. So far, that  tax has generated $10 million for the fund.
The monthly revenue from marijuana has increased steadily. In January, the total collected in taxes and fee was $3.5 million; in October, it was $7.6 million.
We also looked at news articles about the tax implications of legalizing marijuana. One, by Associated Press writer Kristen Wyatt, reports that estimates for tax potential from marijuana sales vary widely. States with legalized recreational marijuana sales could see their revenue drop as more states move to legalize.  
Another story, by Associated Press reporter Gene Johnson, detailed how tax revenues from legal sales of marijuana  were being undercut by regular users buying medical or black-market marijuana to avoid the higher taxes.
Officials in Colorado and Washington, two of the four states that have legalized sale of recreational marijuana, are  considering ways to rein in the medical marijuana system and to reduce the tax differential between medical and retail sales.
For the record, Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in 2006. In 2013, it decriminalized possession of small amounts of non-medical marijuana; anyone caught with up to one ounce is subject to a $150 fine instead of facing a misdemeanor criminal charge.


  1. Makes perfect sense to sensible, rational individuals. Which of course includes not a single right-wing, law-and-order Republican. Most of whom are convinced that Saddam Hussein planned and carried out 9/11.

  2. Bill Clinton while blithely declaring he did not inhale was responsible for more ordinary citizens being involved in the federal judicial system as a direct result of their involvement with marijuana. This cynical uncaring attack on the Bill of Rights is a hard one to top. A truly reptilian being.

    " In the Clinton years, police overreach in the name of the Drug War shredded
    much of what remained of the Bill of Rights. And those most frequently
    caught in its web were not the "drug kingpins" legislators claimed to be
    going after. Mothers, fathers, small-time dealers, medical-marijuana users
    and even children were caught in a criminal- justice system so overgrown no
    one is immune to the new powers Johnny Law uses to protect us from
    ourselves. And while much of the horror heaped on the American public has
    occurred at the state and local levels, the tenor of the times begins at
    the top-which places the responsibility squarely at Bill Clinton's feet."

    source -

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  4. The war against marijuana fits some of the classic indicators of Ruling Elites fighting what economists call "creative destruction" -- a shift in economic activity that raises new businesses at the expense of old ones. In the case of marijuana, the losers are Big Pharma, Big Alcohol, and even Big Paper, the old wood-fiber based paper industry which has a hard time competing with hemp fiber. (Yes, industrial hemp and marijuana are two different plants, but they LOOK alike so the wood-fiber paper industry needed to keep both illegal.) Perhaps Big Alcohol will be the biggest loser, and there are some powerful elites in that business. I once read an article about how the House of Rothschild concealed its true wealth. The author had to peel back SIX layers of corporate ownership before he had proved that the Rothschilds owned Seagrams. Many of the biggest, oldest banks (HSBC comes to mind) put together their early fortunes running drugs, and even today make a fortune on money laundering for the drug trade. And the criminal INjustice system itself has been making a fortune on marijuana prohibition in the form of salaries and prison slave labor.

    So Colorado may be making and saving many millions on marijuana legalization, but the creative destruction going on quietly behind the scenes is causing a lot of gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair.

  5. Surprise! Surprise!

    There's money to be made selling dope. No! Really there is! Isn't it great news? Colorado is raking in gazillions selling dope to its young adults and to the young adults of neighboring states. It's turned into an economic bonanza for bureaucrats hungry for more slush money and political graft.

    And talk about economic revitalization, wow. These very same dope people who buy and sell marijuana also buy and sell all the other drugs, providing another economic boost. The dope industry economic stimulus of pot sales is spurring growth in other growth industries too, like methamphetamine sales, cocaine sales, heroin sales, bath salt sales, and prostitution.

    I'll bet Colorado state could make money selling child porn too. In fact, I was wondering the other day, how old should a child have to be before society would let them sell their bodies to pay for their dope habits? In countries where dope is legal, they start kids out in prostitution at about ten. Well, hell! That says a lot for all those countries where dope is legal then, doesn't it? U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!

    Remind me again. What happens to communities that get thoroughly infested with drugs.

    Does the name Detroit ring a bell? All these pro-dope people are completely delusional. The negatives of legal pot in Colorado is already spurring calls to make dope illegal again. So, for the other dope-tempted states, what's the rush? Just sit back and watch how this plays out in Colorado.

    Or rush into it greedily, because there's nothing that pleases a politicians more than cash flow. And, if dope sales equate to anything, it's cash flow. Hear that sucking sound out in Colorado? That's Colorado's economic being swept up into the whirlwind of the dope economy it has unleashed.

    Colorado, the pothead state. Has sort of a ring to it, doesn't it?

  6. Child porn is neither consensual nor moral. Responsible, adult alteration of consciousness is not a crime and in no way equates to child pornography-your strawman hyperbole doesn't equal a valid argument. Furthermore, Detroit is a wasteland thanks to all the corporations who pulled their factories out so they could pay workers less and CEOs/shareholders more as well as the corrupt politicians who allowed it to happen, not pot dealers. Go sell your ridiculous, antique Drug War agitprop to those at an intellectual level low enough to buy it, like a DEA supervisor or a police lieutenant.

  7. Have you ever even been to Colorado? You either work for the government, your income depends on keeping marijuana illegal, or you are just spouting off the same old shit that the Feds have been doing for years. Have you ever even smoked marijuana? Alcohol and prescription drugs cause great harm to our society, yet they are legal. Marijuana a plant that has been shown to cure seizures, and replace many pharmaceuticals at a fraction of the cost. Colorado's economy is booming, and it has nothing to do with legal marijuana. I can tell that by you calling it dope, you are out of touch.

    As for your Detroit reference, Detroit did not fail because of drugs, it failed because the auto industry and many other manufacturing jobs were outsourced to foreign countries because of our crooked politicians letting it happen for campaign contributions.

    The tax revenue that marijuana generates is very strictly regulated and has been used to fund school districts to hire nurses and social workers that were eliminated because of budget cuts.

    You better just sit back, because all states and the feds will legalize it soon when they realize that it's a waste of money to enforce stupid laws and it's much easier to regulate it and let police work on real crime.

    I can tell by your arguments that you are not too bright and your living in the past. Come visit Colorado, we have over 300 days of sunshine and Colorado is ranked one of the healthiest states in the country, more Olympic athletes live and train here than any other state. People want to move here, a progressive state that told the Feds to pound sand, our citizens want Marijuana legal as does most of the country. The drug war has ruined this country as the US has 3 % of the population yet over 25% of the prison population. Colorado is an awesome state, so in retrospect, stay where you are, we don't want your kind.

  8. You really need to update: instead of watching the old "Reefer Madness" movie you should watch "Reefer Madness: The Musical". In the meantime, thank heaven for stupid trolls, 'cause without them who would stupid politicians quote.