On November 6, 2012, Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, the first statewide legislation to legalize growing, selling, and consuming recreational marijuana in the United States. The popular-initiative ballot of Amendment 64 was passed not only for adults 21 and over to enjoy legal marijuana, but also with a promise of increased tax revenue. According to recent data from the Colorado Department of Revenue, that promise is being fulfilled.
According to the report, marijuana-related revenue for the state hit $1.3 billion dollars in 2016, with $200 million of that revenue going directly into the Colorado tax system. 2016 was the third year in which Colorado has allowed for legalized recreational marijuana growth and use. This was also the first year since legalization that revenue has topped $1 billion. In 2014 total revenue for legal marijuana came in at $699.2 million, followed by $996.2 million in 2015.
The upward trend of the recreational marijuana industry in the state has pro-marijuana groups adamant about the success of the legislation and its future potential, including Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Denver-based Marijuana Policy Project.
“The money is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for the 42 states that still choose to force marijuana sales into the criminal market and forego millions of dollars in tax revenue,” said Tvert in a statement. “The state received nearly $200 million in marijuana tax revenue, whereas just a decade ago it was receiving zero.”
The recreational marijuana industry is also growing nationwide. Colorado and Washington state were the first to pass legislation regarding recreational marijuana use in 2014, but have since been followed by Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington DC.
According to research from Arcview Market Research and market data from BDS Analytics, nationwide marijuana sales grew 30% to $6.7 billion in 2016. The firms predict that the marijuana industry will be one of the most successful in the coming future with a net-worth of $20.2 billion by 2021.
The current Trump administration has hinted that it may be going after the recreational marijuana market but has been unclear in what manner. Tvert once again points to Colorado when discussing the greater good of legal cannabis, “Marijuana is now being sold in licensed businesses, rather than out on the street,” said Tvert. “It is being properly tested, packaged, and labeled and it is only being sold to adults who show proof of age. The system is working.”