In 2014, Colorado netted $44 million in tax dollars from legal marijuana sales along with additional $32 million from medical sales for a total of $76 million.
Thanks to its higher tax rate, delayed entrance into the market, and other variables, Washington state’s legal retail market actually toppled Colorado’s retail sales (and nearly its combined market) by netting $70 million in tax dollars. A year ago tomorrow, legal weed sales began in Washington, and while Washington’s implementation of legal weed (I-502) and shunning of its medical market has been justly criticized by farmers and dispensary owners who have reportedly been losing money as prices crash in an over-saturated, distorted market, Washington seems to be doing just fine fiscally speaking.
But you can’t argue with the tax dollars gained which, like in Colorado, surely benefit the state’s school system, crime rates, and overall quality of life. According to the report via the state’s Liquor and Control Board, Washington now averages $1.4 million in sales a day from the state’s 160 shops.
While Colorado surely has more than 160 recreational shops by now, most are submerged in Denver in an extremely saturated market. Perhaps more Colorodoans than Washingtonians get their medical marijuana cards, and perhaps the difference can be attributed to a simply fact: nearly two million more people live in Washington than Colorado.
Additionally, Colorado’s first two months (while a major tourist attraction) saw a lot of dispensaries waiting for their retail sales to open. Since then, monthly tax dollars have soared along with the number of dispensaries.
That said, while Colorado gets the most headlines, it oddly appears that Washington’s much-maligned market is actually just as if not bigger.