That’s Not Chump Change! Colorado Raking in Taxes from Marijuana Sales

Colorado pulled in more than $6 million in taxes and fees from legal marijuana sales last month.

Wall Street 24/7 notes that’s not as much as states with legalized gambling, but these numbers are expected to rise to as much as $200 million annually.

The debate in state legislatures across the country about marijuana legalization is divided generally into two parts. The first is whether it is moral to make it legal to use a substance which has been illegal for decades. The second is whether taxes on legal marijuana could begin to approach the yield from state lotteries and gambling. At one point, each of these was considered enough of a vice that the idea of legalizing them was abhorrent to many legislators. Those qualms have become less over time, or the attraction of tax revenue has affected their views.

States have plenty of reasons to seek new sources of income. Even with the end of the recession, sales and property taxes have not rebounded entirely in some states. Pension liabilities run into the tens of billions of dollars in some states. And there is no path to solve this pension problem. Taxes on “vices” generally are matched to pension deficits.