Colorado’s Department of Revenue recently released cannabis tax data for May 2015, and it seems schools will reap the rewards of recreational and medical marijuana taxation. The state has an allotment dedicated to school construction capital.
As a result of complete marijuana legalization, the state has put a reasonable chunk of collected cannabis taxes into the fund. After just five months, the funds collected as a result of the state’s marijuana-funded excise tax have already surpassed the amount realized in 2014.
Colorado lawmakers put in place three types of taxes on recreational cannabis: a 15% tax on wholesale cannabis transfers, a 10% special plant sales tax and the state’s standard 2.9% sales tax. The excise tax in particular has grown substantially in the first months of 2015. In March, the tax collected $2.5 million, which grew to $3.5 million in May. The total excise tax collected through May equals $13.6 million. This figure is already higher than the 2014 annual total of $13.3 million.
The new tax data shows that recreational sales have plateaued during spring 2015. Retail sales have not fluctuated significantly between the months of March and May. Sales totaled between $42.4-$42.7 million, with May’s total equaling $42.5 million. However, medical cannabis sales in the state were at an all time high since October 2014, reaching $32.4 million.
When Amendment 64 found its way to the Colorado ballot in 2012, voters were promised $40 million in taxes that would go toward schools. This aspect of the bill served to convince many individuals who were undecided about recreational cannabis legalization.
While this number may have seemed a bit of a stretch in the beginning, it now seems like an achievable goal. If future monthly numbers continue to match May’s record-breaking figures, the state’s tax could bring in as much as $38 million dollars. Conservative estimates put that total at a respectable $25-$30 million.
Pat Steadman, a Democratic state senator stated,
“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.”
In November 2015, voters will return to the polls to decide the fate of the tens of millions of cannabis tax dollars from the most recent fiscal year. If Colorado’s residents say yes to Prop BB, the state will keep the money and put it towards law enforcement, school construction, substance abuse, prevention and youth services. If they vote no, around $60 million will be returned to cannabis businesses and customers through a sales tax reduction on recreational marijuana.