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Colorado’s Colossal Cannabis Cash Cow

The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) has released some eye-popping figures for marijuana sales, tax and fee revenue in the state.

In Colorado, medical cannabis has been legal since 2000 and marijuana for recreational use since late 2012. According to SensibleColorado, which has a detailed history of cannabis regulation in the state, Colorado was the ” first state in the world” to vote in favor of ending marijuana prohibition.

Approximately 55% of the Colorado electorate voted in favor of Amendment 64, which made the private use, and limited possession and home-growing of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. The amendment also established a regulatory, tax and distribution system. Additionally, Amendment 64 required the state legislature to permit cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.

Coloradans have embraced their cannabis freedom, as is evident by sales that have occurred since. The latest CDOR report indicates the following:

  • August 2023: $132,447,967
  • 2023 Calendar Year Total: $1,052,517,913
  • To Date Total (since January 2014): $15,028,995,376

Tax and fee revenue:

  • September 2023: $22,608,782
  • 2023 Calendar Year Total: $210,123,862
  • To Date Total (since February 2014): $2,554,160,551

Tax and fee revenue are based on:

  • A regular state sales tax of 2.9% on sales in stores – this includes medical marijuana.
  • A state retail marijuana sales tax of 15% on retail marijuana sold in stores.
  • A state retail excise tax of 15% on wholesale sales/transfers of retail marijuana.

Fee revenue is derived from marijuana license and application fees.

Tax revenue is directed to a variety of programs in the state, including funding the construction of schools, bullying prevention, early literacy and behavioral health programs.

Colorado’s legal cannabis sector has also been a major jobs engine. After a COVID related surge, the state-licensed industry added more than 100,000 new jobs in 2021 and employed over 428,000 full-time workers in 2022. However, many jobs have been shed in Colorado since due to various factors including oversupply and competition from other states. As at early this year, the state ranked 6th in the nation for cannabis employment, down from 2nd just the year before.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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