As of 2018, nine U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana, and 29 have legalized medical marijuana sales. States that have legalized recreational sales either have or expected to see major changes in tax revenue — a major driver behind legalization from state to state.
Some states that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen multi-million dollar boosts in tax revenue, including one that took in $30 million in the first six months after legalization (page 15). Others, especially those who have limited their sales to medical marijuana exclusively, haven’t seen the financial results they expected to.
- The state has earned over $1 million from medical marijuana sales alone.
From initial legalization to the end of 2017, Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensaries earned the state $1.3 million in tax revenue.
Next: Initial sales in this state were lower than expected.
2. New York
- Medical marijuana revenues weren’t as high as expected.
In the first year medical marijuana sales were legal, New York state’s marijuana companies brought in around $16 million. The state did not expect such low sales, and believe a lack of certified patients to be a major contributing factor.
Next: How many tons of marijuana did people in this state consume in 2017? A lot.
- State residents consumed 43 tons of cannabis products in just one year.
Arizona medical marijuana sales hit a statewide record in 2017. In total, residents consumed 43 tons of cannabis products, bringing in millions.
Next: Implementing a sales tax might help make this state a lot richer.
- People must pay a 6% sales tax for all medical cannabis purchases.
The state was struggling to make significant revenue from retail sales of medical marijuana. So at the beginning of 2018, Michigan implemented a 6% sales tax on all retail sales from dispensaries statewide, which patients weren’t expecting.
Next: Medical marijuana doesn’t generate as much revenue as recreational, but it’s still impressive.
- The state had a highly profitable first quarter of legal sales.
In the first three months medical marijuana sales were legal in Montana, the state generated about $300,000 in tax revenue.
Next: This state could eventually make billions on medical marijuana alone.
- The state could make up 14% of the national medical marijuana market by 2020.
Once Florida officially voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, experts started making predictions. They now estimate that statewide revenue could top $1 billion by 2020.
Next: This state has no shortage of legal medical marijuana recipients.
- The state’s program keeps growing, and will probably continue to do so.
In 2017, Illinois added over a thousand new patients to its medical marijuana program. The state brought in an average of $7 million from retail sales per month that year.
Next: This state implemented a higher-than-average wholesale marijuana tax.
- The state implemented a 10% tax on retail sales, and over 20% wholesale.
Officials are predicting that by the end of its first year following official legalization of recreational marijuana sales, Maine could generate up to $85 million from retail sales alone.
Next: This is one of the most recent states to legalize recreational sales, and estimates are huge.
- Millions of dollars could go a long way, depending on how the state distributes it.
It is estimated that recreational marijuana sales starting in July 2018 could generate up to $82 million in tax revenue for the state of Massachusetts by the end of its first fiscal year.
Next: This state made $1 million in just one month.
- High wholesale taxes frustrated Alaska cannabis growers at first.
In January 2018 alone, the state of Alaska generated over $1 million in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales. Sales reportedly declined slightly the following month.
Next: The first state to legalize recreational marijuana had a profitable first three years.
- Colorado set an example for many other states to follow.
Reports indicated that between 2014 and 2017, the state of Colorado made over half a billion dollars in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales. The state has thus far used the majority of these revenues to benefit schools across the state.
Next: This state will generate major tax income by the end of its first full legal year.
- At first, California residents weren’t happy about high taxes.
At the beginning of 2018, when California officially legalized marijuana on January 1, sales were estimated to exceed $3.7 billion by the end of the year. With a population of over 40 million, it’s expected to significantly boost revenue nationwide.
Next: A high sales tax was worth it in the end for this state.
- The state charges a 17% tax on retail marijuana sales.
Oregon generated an estimated $13.4 million in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales within the first three months after the law went into effect. The state distributed this revenue among education, health, public safety, and other programs.
Next: This state has sold over $1 billion worth of legal pot.
- The state sold $1 billion worth in the first two years.
In 2016, Washington state dispensaries exceeded $1 billion in sales since marijuana’s legalization two years earlier.
Next: This state had a record-breaking first six months of legal sales.
- The state charges a 10% tax on every retail sale.
Within its first six months of legalization, Nevada made over $30 million in tax revenue. Retailers reportedly sold more than $195 million in legal cannabis during that short amount of time. The state charges a 10% tax on retail sales.
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