Colorado retailers have sold more than $15 billion worth of legal marijuana products since the state’s first adult-use retailers opened in 2014—and that has generated more than $2.5 billion in cannabis tax revenue to support public programs and services—state officials have announced.
As of August, Colorado has seen $15,028,995,376 in total legal cannabis sales. In 2023 alone so far, marijuana sales have amounted to $1,052,517,913.
The tax revenue from the last nine years of legalization stands at $2,554,160,551 as of September, the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) said in a press release on Wednesday.
Colorado was the first state to launch recreational marijuana sales following voters’ approval of a legalization initiative at the ballot in 2012. Annual sales peaked in 2021, when they reached about $2.2 billion, but they’ve since declined and largely leveled out in the past two years.
An analysis from the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff (LCS) that was released in August also showed that Colorado generated more tax revenue from marijuana than alcohol or cigarettes during the last fiscal year, with $280 million in cannabis tax dollars going toward a variety of government programs and services like K–12 education and health care.
The U.S. Census Bureau has started keeping tabs on state cannabis sales and tax revenue data, even as the plant continues to be federally prohibited. And a new Census report shows that Colorado is one of five states that have consistently seen cannabis revenue make up at least one percent of all state income over the past two years.
In Colorado, those marijuana tax dollars are funding a variety of services, including substance misuse treatment, early childhood literacy, youth mentorship and bullying prevention, law enforcement training, affordable housing, research and illicit market interdiction.
As CDOR explained in the new press release, the tax revenue comes from several sources: the state’s 2.9 percent sales tax on cannabis, a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana products sold in stores and a 15 percent retail excise tax applied to wholesale sales and transfers, as well as fee revenue from cannabis business license and application fees.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has been a longstanding champion of legalization, and he’s worked to build on the existing industry while also pushing for federal reform.
He recently applauded President Joe Biden after his administration’s top health agency recommended rescheduling marijuana—but he says the initial move must be followed with more action to address cannabis banking, immigration, criminal justice reform and federal enforcement concerns.
While marijuana sales in Colorado have dipped in recent years, other more new state markets have widely seen record-breaking sales numbers this year.
In Illinois, for example, officials recently touted the industry’s “unprecedented growth” in fiscal year 2023, with regulated stores selling more than $1.5 billion in marijuana products. In September, stores in the state sold more individual cannabis products than during any prior month.
Connecticut, meanwhile, tallied more than $25 million in total sales in September, besting a record set the previous month.
Licensed retailers in Maryland, sold a record amount of adult-use cannabis products in September although medical marijuana sales fell.
August was also a record-setting month in Rhode Island, which sold its highest amount of cannabis for the fourth consecutive month, notching $9.7 in monthly receipts.
Purchases of adult-use cannabis in August also broke a record ($23.7 million) in Montana, state officials reported, although medical marijuana sales were at their lowest ($5.0 million) since recreational markets opened early last year.
In Maine, too, marijuana sales reached a record high in August, with nearly $22 million worth of purchases, according to recent data from the state Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP).
Early last month, Massachusetts officials reported that retailers have now sold more than $5 billion in adult-use marijuana since the state’s recreational market launched five years ago. Sales reached $139.3 million in August alone, with the year-to-date total at $1.05 billion within the first eight months of 2023.
Michigan marijuana sales also reached another record high in July, with nearly $277 million worth of cannabis sold.
In Missouri, meanwhile, retailers have been selling about $4 million worth of marijuana per day on average since the state’s adult-use market opened up in February—and the state saw a record $121.2 million in cannabis purchases in June.
Back in Colorado, the governor has also called on lawmakers to take steps to allow him to issue mass pardons for people with prior psychedelics convictions after he signed legislation to implement regulations for substances like psilocybin and ayahuasca in May.
He’s further approved legislation that will bolster marijuana-related protections for working professionals in the state—effectively codifying an executive order he issued last year.
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