Colorado’s educational system continues to benefit the most from the legalization of cannabis. The latest statistics from the Department of Revenue indicate that the state has already generated more tax revenue for school construction this year than it did throughout the entire first year of legal sales.
By May, the state’s 15-percent excise tax had reportedly earned $13.7 million, signifying a hefty increase from this revenue source considering that only 13.3 million was deposited into the coffers in 2014.
This raise in school funding is due to more businesses paying taxes in 2015 than in the inaugural year. Prior to the launch of legal sales, state regulators offered the medical marijuana industry a one time tax-exempt status to help them transition into the recreational sector. This, along with the fact that more cannabis businesses have emerged since last January, has put the state on track to achieving the fiscal benefit anticipated with the passing of Amendment 64.
“It sounds very encouraging,” said state senator Pat Steadman of Denver. “Voters wanted the school capital construction program to benefit and despite some bumps in the road at the beginning, it looks like what was intended is coming to fruition.”
Three separate taxes are applied to recreational marijuana sales in Colorado: a 2.9 percent sales tax, an additional 10 percent special marijuana tax and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers.
The latest cannabis tax data indicates that sales began leveling off in the spring, with the market maintaining a monthly sales total of somewhere between $42.4 and $42.7 million. Medical marijuana sales achieved its highest position – $32.4 million – during the month of May.
Because of some new revisions to state funding, Colorado schools are promised no less than $40 million in 2015, regardless of what the excise tax brings in. The current data seems to imply the take for 2015 will be closer to $30 million – a figure that is expected to increase in the coming years.
“It sounds like they’re on track for more than $30 million for this calendar year,” said Steadman. “When we talk about $40 million for school construction, I knew that was a number they’d need to grow into. But it looks like we’re going to grow into it and that’s a good thing, because I’m promoting the passage of Proposition BB this year and voters have twice seen on the ballot the $40 million figure for school construction… Proposition BB would help make that happen.”
Voters in Colorado will decide on Proposition BB in the upcoming November election. Depending on the outcome, $60 million will either be refunded to pot shop patrons or filtered back into the state to pay for projects ranging from school construction to law enforcement.
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