Marijuana legalization would raise $32 million for Colorado: report

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, August 16, 2012 17:05 EDT
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A 'joint' of marijuana on top of U.S. currency. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
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If Colorado voters decide to legalize marijuana this November, the state could see more than $32 million in new revenue, according to a report by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy.

The report found that if Amendment 64 is passed, the state would gain about $24 million in new revenues from an excise tax on marijuana producers. Colorado would also see approximately $8.7 million in new sales tax revenues. Local governments would benefit as well, gaining around $14.5 million in new local sales tax revenue combined.

In addition, the report found that the cost of arrests, prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration for marijuana-related crimes amounted to more than $12 million — all of which would become instant savings for the year following legalization.

The report is only a rough estimate of the new revenues and savings Colorado could benefit from if it legalizes marijuana. No modern nation has legalized the commercial production and sale of marijuana, so there is an absence of data regarding the budgetary effects legalization will have. The economic model created by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy assumes there will be a slight increase in marijuana users and a drop in the price of the drug.

If approved by voters, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (Amendment 64) would allow for the limited possession and cultivation of cannabis by adults age 21 and over. It would also allow the state and local governments to enact regulations on the commercial production and distribution of marijuana, as well giving local governments the option to prohibit marijuana sales altogether.

The ballot initiative would impose a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana producers. The first $40 million in excise tax revenue would go to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund to build new schools in the state.

About 47 percent of Colorado voters support Amendment 64, while about 38 oppose it, according to a Public Policy Polling survey (PDF) conducted earlier this month.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana. But Colorado would be the first state to legalize the drug for recreational use. A ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California, Proposition 19, was defeated in 2010.

[Marijuana and money via Shutterstock]

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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