Recreational cannabis sales began in January of 2014 in the state of Colorado. Over the course of 2014, the state collected roughly $76 million in marijuana taxes, an impressive amount. But the taxes collected this year are on pace to dwarf last year’s number by quite a bit.
Estimates have this year’s taxes from marijuana in Colorado exceeding $125 million thanks to an almost 28% tax rate when you add up the rates from all the levels of taxation. It’s a rate that is much higher than alcohol or cigarettes.
Obviously consumers and activists would like to see that rate be much lower, and rapidly growing tax revenue is actually something that can facilitate that. As the legal marijuana market grows, the state will be able to collect more tax money from lower and lower rates, spurring more sales and increasing revenue even more. With marijuana prices dropping in the state, the cycle of economic growth is in full swing.
I understand that many of you reading this do not think marijuana should be taxed, and I agree. Cannabis should be free to grow like any other plant, and at the very least medical marijuana sales should be completely tax-free. But legalization will only happen if the government gets a nice big chunk of money from it.
Taxation must be embraced by those seeking recreational legalization — it is the key. Once it is legalized, you can then turn your attention to improving the legalization and keeping taxes as low as possible. That’s why stories like this are a huge positive for the legalization movement. Spread the word that legalization makes big tax money and see how many flood to your side.
A minority of the population are regular cannabis users and they don’t constitute enough votes to pass legalization anywhere. But if you start talking about tax money for schools, you draw in the soccer moms and the hockey dads and the people who don’t like weed but think adults should be able to make their own choices.
Those are the people we need to make legalization happen.