From the time legal cannabis first went on sale in Colorado, many people have been watching it closely to determine just how much potential the industry has. Back in February, the final tax revenue reports for 2015 were in, and Colorado’s legal cannabis industry (including recreational and medicinal sales) had managed to bring in just over $996 million in sales – which provided the state with $135 million in tax revenue which was used to fund a school construction project, general funding for schools, drug addiction treatment and prevention, healthcare and law enforcement.
This year they have surpassed that with two months to go until the end of the year. By the end of October 2016 the recreational cannabis industry in Colorado had sold more than $82 million in that month alone – medical marijuana saw sales of $35 million for the same month. These sales were a 30% increase compared to October in 2015 and a 42% increase when compared to 2014, which was the first year when cannabis was available legally for purchase by adults 21 and older. By the end of October, the year to date sales of all cannabis together added up to $1.1 billion.
“We think we’ll see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year,” said Sederberg, “and so the economic impact of this industry — if we’re using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Group’s recent report, which is totally reasonable — it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.”
At this point, that puts $150 million in tax revenue generated by the cannabis industry when you include both recreational and medicinal cannabis sales. The first $40 million made from recreational sales goes directly into a designated school construction fund, which is used for updating school facilities, among other things. The rest of the funds will be similarly distributed to healthcare, law enforcement and addiction prevention and treatment – but the Governor has hopes for one more project that may be accomplished with this money.
“We spend more than twice as much … perpetuating lives of misery by letting people live under bridges than we would getting them into housing and giving them wrap-around services ― by which I mean, job training at the top of the list, counseling for addictions and medications for mental health,” Hickenlooper told The Denver Post of the initiative late last month.
If Governor Hickenlooper’s plan goes through, then the homeless in Colorado may be seeing some much needed changes and the help they need to try and put their lives back together. The tax revenue coming from the legal cannabis industry has given the state of Colorado a much needed source of revenue – and now a total of eight states will be implementing a similarly run industry, which brings in new jobs and new revenue and only seems to be continuing to grow, even in states where it is relatively well established.