Lessons Learned from Colorado’s First Year of Marijuana Legalization

Source: Jennifer Horne, Council of State Governments, The Current State #11, April 6, 2015

…In total, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division reports that the state sold nearly $700 million in medical and recreational marijuana in 2014, on which the state collected $63 million in tax revenue and an additional $13 million in licenses and fees…. It also made it extremely difficult to make budget predictions. The state made $44 million in revenue from new taxes on recreational marijuana in 2014, which was short of the forecasted $70 million, forcing the state to scale back proposed funding for some programs…. Another ongoing problem is the industry’s limited access to banking services. Because the drug remains illegal at the federal level, many banks refuse to do business with the industry. As a result, this multi-million dollar industry deals mostly in cash. To ease the problem, the Colorado state banking commission in December approved a new credit union targeting the marijuana industry; however, it has not yet been approved for depository insurance by the National Credit Union Association and does not yet have an account with the Federal Reserve. With Alaska and Oregon set to join Colorado and Washington in the retail market in 2016, the number of states with legalized marijuana sales may continue to grow. An initiative will appear on the 2016 ballot in Nevada, and supporters are gathering signatures for similar initiatives in Arizona, California, Maine and Massachusetts. The Vermont legislature will likely also consider legalization legislation….