It’s a pretty extraordinary milestone, and an indicator of just how financially strong the legal marijuana market has become. The Colorado Department of Revenue says sales since legalization have topped $6.5 billion, generating $1.02 billion from taxes, licenses and fees. The state has more than 2,900 licensed marijuana businesses and more than 41,000 licensed workers in the industry.
“This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction,” Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.
The Denver Post reports marijuana revenue funds a variety of public health programs, including mental health services, youth literacy initiatives and anti-bullying programs in schools. The tax revenue goes to state and local governments.
Colorado isn’t the only place cashing in on the hunger for legal weed. In 2018, marijuana business owners nationwide were projected to own a total of $2.8 billion in taxes to the federal government. As many as 300,000 people are predicted to be a part of the marijuana industry by 2020, and pot-related jobs from bud trimming to industry consulting can pay some pretty healthy green.
For Sal Pace, a former state representative and county commissioner in southern Colorado, as well as a longtime advocate of cannabis legalization in the state, these new financial numbers are vindicating.
“Think about it. That’s a billion dollars that was taken out of the pockets of the black market cartels and put towards communities,” Pace told Leafly. “This is pretty amazing; it surpassed all of our expectations.”