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Colorado Has Made More Than $1bn From Legal Cannabis

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Jun 14, 2019   
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Colorado has made more than 1 billion US dollars since it legalized marijuana in 2014, according to the state Department of Revenue. 

In the five years since legalizing recreational use, the state’s marijuana tax, license, and fee revenue has reached $1.02 billion, while whole marijuana sales have exceeded $6.56 billion. 

Despite its nascence, Colorado’s cannabis sector now boasts 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses and 41,076 employees permitted to work with the once criminal substance. 

“Today’s report continues to show that Colorado’s cannabis industry is thriving, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We can and we must do better in the face of increased national competition. We want Colorado to be the best state for investment, innovation, and development for this growing economic sector,” said Governor Polis in a press statement

Cannabis tax revenue has reportedly gone on to supports state-wide efforts such as youth prevention efforts, behavioral health treatment, and public health and safety initiatives. 

“This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health, and safety and investing in public school construction,” Polis continued.

The economic expense is also rising for the consumer, though. This April, the Colorado Department of Revenue announced that the average price per pound of bud and trim had risen again to $806 per pound (from $781 in the sector’s previous quarter) and $425 per pound (from $396), respectively. It was the second consecutive quarter where bud and trim rates had increased.

The state's legal cannabis program is also growing. Only last month, Governor Polis signed several bills legalizing marijuana delivery services and social use areas, which will allow retail cannabis stores, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses to apply for marijuana social consumption licenses.

“We are committed to facilitating responsible innovation within this dynamic industry through continued engagement with our diverse group of stakeholders,” said Jim Burack, director of the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. “Colorado will continue to be known for its regulatory leadership.”

But not every US state is reaping such record revenue from the cannabis economy. Last month, Californian authorities slashed the state’s projected cannabis tax revenue through June 2020 by $223 million – an economic dent widely pinned on the state’s thriving illicit market. 

However, the Golden State’s difficulties haven’t deterred every remaining state from entering into the cannabis economy. Just two weeks ago, the Illinois State House of Representatives voted 66-to-47 in favor of legalizing state cannabis use for adults over the age of 21.

Taking a leaf out of Colorado’s policies, the Illinois proposal championed cannabis’ tax potential, claiming that revenue raised through cannabis sales will be distributed between community grant programs, substance abuse and mental health services, law enforcement training, and the state general revenue fund.  

Leo Bear-McGuinness

Science Writer & Editor

Leo joined Analytical Cannabis in 2019. From research to regulations and analysis to agriculture, his writing covers all the need-to-know news for the cannabis industry. He holds a Bachelor's in Biology from Newcastle University and a Master's in Science Communication from the University of Edinburgh.


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