Colorado hits $1 billion in tax revenue since legalizing marijuana

Bar, cafe and hotel in Alma, Colorado, USA – the highest town in North America

Colorado has reached a major milestone by surpassing $1 billion in tax revenue since legalizing cannabis in 2014.

The Colorado Department of Revenue announced on Wednesday that the state has generated $6.5 billion in sales since becoming the first in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

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Revenues from tax, license and fees reached $1.02 billion, according to the statement.

“Today’s report continues to show that Colorado’s cannabis industry is thriving, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We can and we must do better in the face of increased national competition,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a news release. “We want Colorado to be the best state for investment, innovation and development for this growing economic sector.”

The majority of the tax generated is devoted to the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, which contributes heavily to areas such as human services, public health and the environment, education, and local affairs. 16.4 percent of the budget has gone to education initiatives since retail sales were legalized, according to state officials.

The historic sector has also been a boon for jobs and employment, as Colorado currently has 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses and 41,076 individuals licensed to work in the industry.

The $1 billion tax revenue was reached in April, which also happened to be the 64th month of cannabis sales since Colorado voters approved the Amendment 64 legalization initiative.

“Generating tax revenue is not the only reason or even the best reason to regulate cannabis,” said Mason Tvert, who co-directed Colorado’s Amendment 64 campaign, in a statement to press. “But when those revenues start adding up to more than $1 billion, as they have in Colorado, it’s a pretty attractive bonus. It’s crazy to think how much money states are flushing down the toilet by keeping marijuana in an illegal market.”

Oscar Pascual is the editor of Smell the Truth, syndicated on GreenState and SFGATE. Smell The Truth is one of the internet’s most popular destinations for cannabis-related news and culture. This blog is not written or edited by Hearst. The authors are solely responsible for the content.