Colorado Marijuana Sales Soar To $1 Billion In Just One Year

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Colorado’s legal marijuana industry is booming, recording almost $1 billion in sales at the end of 2015, according to the State’s Department of Revenue.

Sales of legal marijuana soared by 42 percent compared with the previous year, said the Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA). The CBA welcomed the boost in sales saying the $135 million of taxes raised from the $996,184,788 of sales would help contribute to the building of new schools in the state.

Nationwide, Americans spent $5.4 billion on legal weed last year. Colorado has become a trailblazer for marijuana reform when it legalized recreational sales in 2012. The taxes raised from marijuana have expanded so rapidly that they now outstrip revenue raised from alcohol, Quartz reports.

Marijuana legalization has not only provided the state government with a new revenue stream, but also made the state increasingly attractive for tourists. The Colorado Tourism Office released a survey back in December 2015, showing 48 percent of summer tourists said legal weed was, in part, a motivating factor in their decision to visit the state.

Speaking to The Cannabist, the Marijuana Policy Project’s communications director said “it’s remarkable that less than seven years ago, all of that money was being spent in the underground market.”

“Clearly there’s a large demand for marijuana, and we’re now seeing that demand being met by legitimate businesses that are answering to authorities instead of criminals who answer to nobody,” he added.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group Mike Elliot agreed, saying people valued the drug’s legal status and the opportunity to avoid interactions with criminals.

“Coloradans are proving they prefer to buy cannabis from the regulated, legal industry rather than the black market,” said Elliott.

“Our industry has helped turn around Colorado’s economy, boosted tourism, revitalized business districts, and is squeezing out the black market. Colorado is proving that a licensed, tightly regulated marijuana industry is the way to go.”

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