In One Year, Here's How Much Money WA State Has Made Since Legalizing Pot

July 6th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

About a year after Washington became the second state in the country to pass a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use, analysts have crunched the numbers and found that tax revenue from pot sales exceeded expectations, garnering $70 million—approximately $34 million more than originally projected. 

According to the Associated Press, the state's modest launch in 2014 has gradually grown to include more than 160 active cannabis shops, with sales topping $250 million in the first year. That means sales hit about $1.4 million per day, for those keeping count. 

"Washington pot farmers, processors, and retailers have complained all year that heavy state and federal tax burdens, along with competition from an unregulated medical marijuana market have made it difficult for them to do business," AP reports. 

But as the state prepares to implement two new tax codes—one to regulate medical marijuana sales and another that aims to do away with Washington's three-level excise tax system in lieu of a single, 37 percent tax—concerns about cumbersome red tape in the cannabis industry appear to have been effectively removed. 

Of the $250 million in marijuana sales made in Washington this year, excise taxes (both state and local) comprised $70 million. This might be only a drop in Washington's $38 billion two-year budget, AP reports, but it is real money. Similar taxes on Colorado's recreational marijuana sales, which began Jan. 1, 2014, brought in taxes of $44 million in the first year.

Tax revenue is expected to rise, but despite high retail sales, many marijuana businesses are still feel overburdened by state and federal tax regulations. For example, just to move the product from growers to processors to the pot shops, there is a 25 percent tax to consider. "That's been especially tough on retailers, who must pay federal income tax on the marijuana tax they turn over to the state."

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Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, January 13, 2015