Five years since Colorado opened its recreational marijuana market in 2014, cannabis tax revenues have exceeded $1 billion.
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the exact amount from marijuana taxes, licenses and fees is just over $1.02 billion, while total sales surpassed $6.5 billion by the end of May 2019.
State figures show that since recreational sales began, 2,917 licensed cannabis businesses have sprung up in Colorado, which now employs 41,076 people in the legal marijuana industry.
“The cannabis industry in Colorado is thriving – the state has reached $1 billion in marijuana tax revenue,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) tweeted on June 12.
“We must continue to lead the way,” he wrote. “We want Colorado to be the best state for investment, innovation and development for this growing economic sector.”
Taxes comprising the revenue include a 2.9 percent sales tax on medical marijuana, 15 percent special sales tax, and a 15 percent excise tax – the latter two being for retail marijuana.
April and May generated the most cannabis revenue in the past five years, according to state data.
Revenue from legal marijuana has been used to fund a variety of state-wide programs, such as substance abuse prevention, mental health treatment, public education projects, and the licensing of cannabis businesses.
Jim Burack, the director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, pledged the department’s continued commitment to “facilitating responsible innovation within this dynamic industry through continued engagement with our diverse group of stakeholders” and that the state “will continue to be known for its regulatory leadership.”
Since Colorado became the first state, along with Washington, to fully legalize cannabis in 2012, eight other states have followed suit. After California, Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont, the next state set to allow recreational marijuana is Illinois, where a legalization bill has recently passed both the Senate and the House. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has already declared he is going to sign the legislation.