Earlier this month, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved a plan for taxing their state’s legal marijuana market. Next month, Washington state will start issuing licenses to retailers to sell recreational marijuana. The best part about it, is that the Feds say they’re going to back off! That means our federal tax dollars can be waisted on something other than trying to criminalize marijuana in Washington and Colorado.
These states are set to provide a case study in the debate over legalization. That debate is expected to spread to other state legislatures next year — advocates have identified Rhode Island and Maine as potential targets — and also to foreign countries such as Uruguay. And why not? It produces more money and economic stimulation than having a war! This is largely the beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition.
Both Colorado and Washington set 21 as the age for legal marijuana use. Revenue is one measure that both sides will be watching closely as a way to evaluate legalization. Estimated income in Washington and Colorado varies widely, from tens of millions of dollars in the first few years to as much as $2 billion in the first half-decade of legalization. The disparity comes, in part, over uncertainty about demand, but demand will be very hight, and State revenue will bring in more than what the Federal Government gives to these 2 States. But on record, State officials have been left guessing.
Colorado has made no official estimate. A study from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy projected the tax could produce $60 million in new revenue and savings annually in the first years of legalization. Washington predicted a “fully functioning” market could bring in $1.9 billion in five years. So yes to all that question. The USA is about to have another historical moment with prohibition.