Colorado has raised $152 million in sales taxes and licensing fees since becoming the second state to legalize the recreational use of Marijuana in 2012 according to official state data. The money collected puts the State in the unusual position of having to face the legality of making too much revenue. Colorado’s “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” states that if revenue exceeds projections then the state is required to issue refunds to taxpayers.
Not only has revenue exceeded projections, almost $24 million has already been allocated towards Colorado school and research programs in May, including providing grants to public school districts and charter schools. This almost doubles the $13.3 million raised for schools in 2014 A vote will be held in November to decide whether or not the government should spend the money on other favorable perpetuation or return it to the citizens.
State Senator Pat Steadman said he is hopeful voters will give school construction a bump through Proposition BB which would further fund school construction, law enforcement, substance abuse prevention and youth services. Nearly $60 million will be refunded back to marijuana businesses and pot-shop customers via a sales tax rate reduction on recreational cannabis if the proposition in rejected.
While Marijuana has brought in millions of dollars, it is not without high regulatory costs.
“Our philosophy has been that marijuana pays its own way,” said Colorado’s deputy director Skyler McKinley. “Every dime we bring in from legalization is dedicated to the cost of legalization. That’s regulatory framework first, then public education campaigns about safe and responsible use and then prevention and treatment programs.”