A Denver-based consulting firm known as VS Strategies released a report that the tax revenue contributions of cannabis legalization in Colorado have reached the half-a-billion-dollars milestone. This not only includes the tax funds generated by sales tax on cannabis and infused products within the state, but also fees that have been paid by companies in the industry as well, over the course of the past three years.
The report puts the numerical amount at $506,143,635 of tax revenue generated between 2014 and mid-2017. VS Strategies calculated this number based on figures made available by the Colorado Department of Revenue.
This is literally millions more than experts initially anticipated in 2012, when Colorado voters made their voices heard in favor of an adult-use cannabis market. Analysts projected at that time that the state would bring in anywhere from $5 million to $22 million in taxes from cannabis sales.
In a display to illustrate the enormity of the real-life figures, VS Strategies presented Colorado State Rep. Jonathan Singer with an oversized check for a half a billion dollars.
Now this is an impressive number, and that cannot be stated enough. But how does Colorado plan to use this money? The report delves into that, too. Amendment 64, the measure that passed resulting in cannabis legalization throughout the state, requires that most of this money go into the public education system. $40 million is allocated specifically for the construction of new schools.
The remainder of the state’s tax revenue from cannabis will be going to:
- Health care and health education
- Law enforcement
- Substance abuse prevention and treatment programs
Local governments are using their share of the funds in a variety of ways. For instance, Pueblo County has issued a first of its kind scholarship program that helps high school graduates to pay for their higher education. The city of Edgewater is using their money to update infrastructure that badly needs it. However, some areas such as Colorado Springs have chosen to ban cannabis sales, thus causing them to miss out on the substantial tax revenue that cannabis sales generate.
Mason Tvert, a leading advocate for Amendment 64 and now an employee of VS Strategies, had the following to say regarding how hugely positive cannabis sales have been to the state-at least in economic terms:
“Marijuana tax money has been used to improve a wide range of programs and services. It is funding everything from school construction to substance abuse treatment to fighting homelessness. While it might not fix every school or help every person who needs it, it is having a significant and positive impact on our community.”
Photo by Franck BLAIS