Washington voters approved marijuana legalization in November of 2012, but it wasn’t until July of 2014 that recreational marijuana sales started at licensed and regulated stores. It was a bumpy ride, and there are certainly more bumps in the road ahead, but for the most part recreational marijuana sales have gone well in Washington. The numbers are in for the first year, and they are substantial. In Colorado’s first year (started January 1, 2014), taxes and fees generated about $44 million dollars for Colorado ($76 million if you could medical marijuana too). Below are the numbers for Washington, via Komo News:
Washington’s racked up more than $250 million in marijuana sales in the past year – roughly $62 million of which constitute marijuana excise taxes. That’s beyond the state’s original forecast of $36 million. And when state and local sales and other taxes are included, the total payday for the state and local governments tops $70 million.
That’s real money, if only a drop in Washington’s $38 billion two-year budget. Colorado’s recreational sales began Jan. 1, 2014, and brought in taxes of $44 million in the first year.
The tax revenue could continue to keep climbing.
There are about 160 recreational stores open and serving customers right now in Washington of the 300+ that were approved for a license. So from that standpoint tax revenues could climb. However, the overall tax rate is going to lower, and people are going to stop coming up from Oregon to purchase recreational marijuana starting October 1st (assuming the Governor signs off on legal sales, which it is all but guaranteed that she will), so I’d expect that to at least equal out any new revenues generated by new stores. But still, $70+ million is a lot of money, and that’s going to help the State of Washington. I’d love to see that number combined with the money saved from not enforcing marijuana prohibition in Washington. That combined number would truly display how much marijuana legalization is helping the State of Washington.