Marijuana Tax Revenue: 8 States Looking to Cash In

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By Joe Klare

On election night last November, voters in four states approved the legalization of marijuana for use by all adults. They were added to a list of 4 states that already allow retail sales of recreational marijuana: Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colorado.

One of the big selling points of legalization to voters — especially voters who are not cannabis users — is the potential tax revenue that can be generated. Stories about increased economic activity abound, from thousands of jobs in Oregon to billions of dollars in economic impact in Colorado. Stories about what is being done with that tax money abound as well, from funding of public schools to helping the homeless.

In all now 8 states stand to make tens of millions of dollars in tax money from recreational legalization. In terms of retail sales, California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine will have joined the 4 states listed above by the end of 2018. That means not only a ton of tax revenue from rates levied at various stages of the distribution to sales chain, but also all the taxes from the new businesses and the new job-holders. It won’t be long before marijuana tax revenue is being talked about in terms of billions of dollars.

Personally I don’t think marijuana should be taxed at all, but that is simply not the country (or world) we live in. And I must admit that without the promise of tax revenue “FOR THE CHILDREN!!!!” marijuana law reform would not be advancing at the pace it is. States will experiment with various taxes and various rates in an attempt to keep prices below those of the (non-taxed) black market, but tax they will. And for many voters — and politicians — who don’t use cannabis, that is a huge plus.


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