In states that have legalized the recreational use of cannabis, retail marijuana tax revenues have beaten expectations, and continue to surprise regulators. Data was collected from Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Regulators’ expectations were very short of the actual numbers, giving light to the real economic benefits of marijuana legalization and business activity that comes along with it. The data also projects the thriving business activity in states where recreational use is legal, despite the many restrictions, setbacks, and the lack of support. Along with healthy numbers around retail marijuana tax revenues, cannabis-related arrests have decreased significantly in these same states. The worry around pot crimes will eventually subside as data continues to show the positive effects that marijuana legalization has on states.
Washington, DC: Tax revenue collection from retail marijuana sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington is exceeding initial projections, according to a report published by the Drug Policy Alliance.
The DPA study finds that marijuana-related tax revenue in Colorado totaled $129 million over the 12-month period ending May 31, 2016 – well exceeding initial estimates of $70 million per year. In Washington, tax revenue totaled $220 million for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2016. Regulators had initially projected that retail sales would bring in only $162 million in new annual tax revenue. In Oregon, marijuana-related tax revenues are yielding about $4 million per month – about twice what regulators initially predicted. (Alaska has yet to begin collecting tax revenue from cannabis businesses.)
The report also finds that legalizing the adult marijuana use market has not been associated with any increases in youth use of the substance, nor has it had an adverse impact on traffic safety. “In Colorado and Washington the post-legalization traffic fatality rate has remained statistically consistent with pre-legalization levels, is lower in each state than it was a decade prior, and is lower than the national rate,” it determined.
In addition, marijuana-related arrest totals have fallen significantly in these jurisdictions post-legalization. According to the report, the total number of all annual marijuana-related arrests decreased by 59 percent in Alaska, by 46 percent in Colorado, by 85 percent in the District of Columbia, and by 50 percent in Oregon. In Washington, the number of low-level marijuana court filings fell by 98 percent.