- October 17, 2020
Now we come to the kicker: All these cannabis sales have generated more than $244 million so far this year in state tax revenues for Colorado, which means the state is on track to top last year’s record of $302.4 million in tax receipts.
Some of you have probably already guessed where we’re headed here: What if Virginia legalized recreational cannabis? How much tax revenue would we collect and what could we use it for? The General Assembly this year decriminalized marijuana and some are already talking about the next logical step: “Legalization next year!” tweeted state Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax County. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William County and one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor next year, has introduced a bill to legalize “simple possession of marijuana,” although it stops short of allowing the kind of open sales of recreational cannabis that 11 other states now allow. Attorney General Mark Herring went on record last year in favor of “moving toward legal and regulated adult use.” Colorado tax officials just gave Virginia 244 million reasons to move faster.
Colorado’s the state most recently in the news, but it’s not even the biggest cannabis state — Washington state is. Last year, Washington collected $395.5 million in marijuana revenue. The Spokesman-Review in Spokane reports that Washington’s marijuana sales are also running well ahead of last year’s figures — 42% higher in July alone. Through June, Washington has already collected $248.2 million in tax revenues, which means that state is on track to possibly hit $500 million in marijuana tax collections this year. That’s 500 million reasons for Virginia to look at full legalization. Perhaps even more. Virginia is 900,000 people bigger than Washington, population-wise, and 3 million people bigger than Colorado, so if Virginians lit up at the same rate, our tax revenues should be more on Washington’s scale than Colorado’s. That’s a big “if” — and also depends on how regulation would be structured. In any case, the point is, there’s a lot of money to be made here — both for entrepreneurs (legalized marijuana requires a whole farm-to-market supply chain) and for the state. Mind you, we’re not dealing here with the moral or social implications of cannabis, just the fiscal ones.
Located at: Seattle
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