Colorado Pot Tax Appears to Have Reaped $60 Million in 2014

By Paul Gaita 01/15/15

The actual number coincides with projections made by state officials early last year.


When Colorado residents voted to approve recreational marijuana use in 2012, economists gave a variety of figures for the tax revenue generated by pot sales in 2014. Estimates ranged from $33.5 million in the first six months of the year to $100 million in annual returns.

When the numbers actually began rolling in mid-year, analysts and marijuana advocates noted that the projections were higher than the actual amount collected from sales and excise taxes, which appeared to hover around $45.5 million. However, new data collected by the Rhode Island edition of appears to show that taxes and fees collected by Colorado from marijuana sales actually total $60 million, which coincided with projections by state officials in mid-2014.

The PolitiFact investigation was spurred by commentary made by James Aubin, founder of the pro-legalization group Common Sense Citizen, regarding the positive impact legal marijuana could have on Rhode Island’s state income.

According to Aubin, the $60 million was based on information from Colorado’s Department of Revenue, a figure confirmed by PolitiFact upon conducting their own review of state tax records. The figure appears to have been generated by a combination of a 2.9% tax on retail and marijuana sales, as well as a 10% special tax on retail sales and a 15% excise tax, as well as application and licensing fees.

A portion of the revenue was redistributed to Colorado communities with marijuana retail stores—Denver alone reaped more than $125,000 from its sales—with the majority going to a state general fund. The Colorado Department of Education has also received $10 million of the $40 million in excise taxes designed for a statewide school construction fund.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.