According to a Washington Post analysis of recently released tax data from the state’s Department of Revenue, Colorado retailers saw sales of legal marijuana reach $700 million in 2014.
Around $386 million of the total was from medical marijuana sales and $313 million was from recreational marijuana sales. The figures do not reflect sales of products related to marijuana, like pipes and bongs, or the increased spending in other segments of Colorado’s economy by tourists coming to partake of the state’s legal marijuana.
Colorado earned $63 million in tax revenue from the sales and another $13 million was collected in licenses and other fee. According to the latest projections, total marijuana tax revenues are expected to rise to $94 million annually by 2016. This makes the Colorado experiment with legal marijuana a success in the eyes of many.
A number of other states are looking to Colorado to see how legal marijuana impacts the state’s economy and safety before going through with their own plans for partial or full legalization of the plant and its cultivation.
Vermont is now considering its own legalization measures and Washington, Oregon, and Alaska have all recently passed legalization laws. However, several states that border Colorado have sued the state in court to stop the legal marijuana sales, saying that the sales will impact their own states negatively.
Despite the significant sales, marijuana retailers have been coping with a host of problems after legalization took effect. Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, marijuana retailers have been unable to coax banks into doing business with them, creating a nearly all cash system that is risky for the retailers.
Marijuana retailers are also not entitled to the wide variety of tax breaks available to other businesses, increasing their cost of doing business considerably. The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has not erased the underground market for weed, as many still choose to pay the tax-free prices of the local dealers instead of heading into the retail stores.