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Report: Colorado Marijuana Revenue Surpasses $1 Billion Since Legalization

Jun 12, 2019

The Colorado government has collected more than $1 billion in marijuana-related taxes and fees since it began regulating marijuana for adult use, according to a report released Wednesday by Vicente Sederberg LLP, a Denver-based firm specializing in cannabis law and policy. Download the report at

The report coincides with and includes data from the Department of Revenue’s release of marijuana sales and revenue figures for April 2019 — the month the state reached the $1 billion milestone, which also happens to be the 64th month of legal marijuana sales under Amendment 64. Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in November 2012, and legal adult sales commenced January 1, 2014. 

The analysis of state data details the sources of marijuana tax and fee revenue and how it is being allocated. It highlights the more than $283 million in marijuana-specific tax revenue that has been raised for K-12 schools, most which has been spent on school construction. Amendment 64 directed the Legislature to enact an excise tax on wholesale transfers of marijuana for adult use and allocated the first $40 million raised each year to the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant program, which funds school construction projects.

“Amendment 64 has clearly fulfilled its promise of raising significant new revenue for school construction projects,” said VS founding partner Brian Vicente, a lead co-author of Amendment 64 who also chaired the committee in support of Prop. AA, the legislatively referred measure that implemented taxes on adult-use cannabis.

“We were never under the illusion that legalization would be a fiscal panacea, but we knew it would have a substantial and positive impact,” Vicente said. “Funds are being used on everything from building schools to hiring school health professionals and paying for bullying prevention programs.”

In addition to supporting Colorado schools, marijuana-related revenue has been used to fund substance abuse treatment and prevention efforts, mental health services and other public health programs, affordable housing, and marijuana-related research. Funds are also used to cover the costs of regulation, which accounts for a relatively small fraction of marijuana-related revenue. A portion of cannabis tax revenues are also shared with local governments.

“Generating tax revenue is not the only reason or even the best reason to regulate cannabis,” said Mason Tvert, who co-directed the Amendment 64 campaign and now serves as vice president of communications at VS Strategies, VS’s public affairs consulting affiliate. “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.”