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Legal Marijuana Taxes Rake In More Than Half A Billion For Colorado


Marijuana legalization in Colorado recently reached a milestone, raking in more than half a billion in revenue for the state since implementation in 2014.

VS Strategies, a marijuana public relations firm in Denver, released the report Wednesday analyzing data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. The report details steady increases in revenue over the past three years of legalization in the state, revealing that the government surpassed $500 million in collections in May, reports FOX 31.

Roughly 51 percent of the funds collected through various taxes on marijuana products have gone to public schools in Colorado, while the rest is going towards public health efforts, drug treatment programs and the criminal justice system. Mason Tvert, a marijuana reform advocate with VS Strategies, presented the state of Colorado with a commemorative check of $500 million to mark the occasion.

Tvert noted revenue from legal weed “is having a significant and positive impact on our community.”

“Legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adult use has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for Colorado,” Tvert said, according to FOX 31. “Marijuana tax money has been used to improve a wide range of programs and services.”

Revenue is collected through a 15 percent excise tax on the wholesale purchase of cannabis, a 10 percent special tax on retail sales, a 2.9 percent standard sales tax that applies to both recreational and medical sales, and application and licensing fees.

Some in the state are critical of celebrating the $500 million milestone, noting that revenue going to the state’s schools represents just a fraction of the total funds needed. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, also points out the state has a $700 million budget deficit that is growing.

“The state faces a thriving black market for marijuana despite legalization, and rising sales of alcohol,” Sabet told FOX 31. “Waving around an oversized novelty check makes pot lobbyists feel good, but it does not help the families and communities who have to deal with the costs of marijuana commercialization.”

The Colorado Department of Revenue revealed in February that marijuana dispensaries throughout the state sold roughly $1.3 billion worth of medical and recreational pot last year. It’s a slight increase over 2015’s previous record haul of $996 million, marking the third straight year of growth in the burgeoning industry.

Recreational weed dominated sales in 2016, accounting for roughly $875 million of the total, while medical marijuana earned roughly $438 million. The marijuana industry is expected to post record setting profits again in 2017.

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