Colorado Governor Predicts Higher Tax Revenue From Pot Sales

By: - February 20, 2014 12:00 am

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is predicting that his state’s tax on legal marijuana will bring in about $134 million in fiscal year 2015, about 50 percent more than originally projected. 

Colorado voters approved an excise tax of 15 percent on marijuana and a special sales tax of 10 percent, for a total tax of 25 percent. That’s in addition to the state’s regular 2.9 percent sales tax.

By law, the state is required to put the first $40 million from marijuana excise taxes into school construction. The rest of the tax revenue can pay for other things.

In releasing the new projections on Thursday, Hickenlooper, a Democrat, outlined some of his preferences for how to spend the money:

  • Youth marijuana use prevention and deterrence (.5 million)
  • Substance abuse treatment (.4 million)
  • Public health (.4 million)
  • Regulatory oversight (.8 million)
  • Law enforcement and public safety (.2 million)
  • Statewide coordination (,000)

Mike Elliott, executive director of the Denver-based Marijuana Industry Group, urged the governor to make sure the state’s Department of Revenue has enough money to enforce state tax laws, including those governing marijuana sales. In addition, he called on the state to play a role in “solving the banking crisis” enveloping the legal marijuana industry.

Last Friday, the Obama administration issued guidelines intended to assure banks and other financial institutions that they would not be prosecuted for serving the legal marijuana industry as long as they adhere to federal guidelines. But the federal guidance does not grant banks complete immunity from prosecution. Many banks said they were still uneasy about serving pot store proprietors.

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Elaine S. Povich
Elaine S. Povich

Elaine S. Povich covers education and consumer affairs for Stateline. Povich has reported for Newsday, the Chicago Tribune and United Press International.