Colorado Is Sitting On An Extra $58 MILLION In Tax Revenue After Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Any state mulling the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana need look no further than this statement: the State of Colorado is sitting on an additional $58 MILLION in tax revenue, which under a new proposal could send $40 million straight into the public education system.

On Wednesday Colorado legislators began work on a proposal for ‘House Bill 15-1367‘ which would allow the state to keep the $58 million in ‘extra’ tax revenue that resulted from a weird quirk in Colorado tax law. As it stands, the $58 million in extra tax revenue is due to be refunded to the citizens of Colorado.

When recreational marijuana was first legalized back in 2012 the taxation of weed was set in place, but the state didn’t account for ‘new taxes’. The refund only accounts for “new sales and excise tax collections” and therefore a ‘marijuana tax refund’ will go into place unless the citizens of Colorado vote to approve a new 10% sales and 15% excise tax on marijuana. Voters will now decided if the $58 million should go into their pockets, or back into the State’s foundation.

The Cannabist reports:

Colorado voters already approved the taxes on recreational pot sales in 2013. But because that ballot measure didn’t account for a quirk in state law related to new taxes, the money will have to be refunded unless voters again approve the 10 percent sales and 15 percent excise taxes.
Colorado voters approved the taxes the first time by a 2-to-1 margin. The new ballot measure has broad bipartisan support, with lawmakers calling the measure a do-over of what voters already approved.
“We hope the voters understand,” said Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, one of the sponsors of the ballot measure.
Colorado made a total of about $76 million from marijuana last year, including fees and pre-existing taxes on medical pot. But the refund is required only for the new sales and excise tax collections, which totaled $58 million.
The measure approved by the House Appropriations Committee does more than just ask voters to keep the money, though. It also rearranges how the money would be spent.
If the ballot measure fails, Colorado would see lower pot taxes and small refunds added to their income tax returns.
About $25 million would go to taxpayers next year, which combined with unrelated credits would mean most would see a total of about $15 to $90.
Another $19.7 million would be refunded to marijuana growers who directly paid those excise taxes.
The final $13.3 million would be accounted for by dropping recreational pot sales taxes for six months. The taxes would drop from 12.9 percent to about 3 percent, not counting local taxes.

It seems pretty reasonable that the citizens of Colorado will vote for this money to go back into the state’s infrastructure instead of each citizen getting a check for like $20. Instead the tens of millions of dollars would be pumped back into education, and law enforcement.

The website MIC has a breakdown of just how exactly the $58 million in legalized marijuana taxes would be spent on the State of Colorado:

If voters approve the measure, Colorado would see $40 million in pot profits channeled back into education through its public school capital construction assistance fund. Another $12 million would support things like youth programs, marijuana educations and law enforcement. The remaining $6 million would be given to the state’s general fund, according to the draft of House Bill 15-1367.

It’s important to note that in that MIC article they also point out the steady drop drop crime since marijuana was first legalized, and how there has been no discernible change in traffic fatalities in the State of Colorado.

So as I said in the beginning: any state not sold on the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana need to look no further than the fact that Colorado is practically swimming in cash from marijuana taxes. Any state in the U.S. that is struggling on the education front can see a HUGE bump in their budget by legalization recreational marijuana. These numbers are too large for states living in the ‘Dark Ages’ to keep on ignoring. If the legalization of weed is on your state’s ballot in the next election, NOW is the time to vote YES.

[MIC via The Cannabist]