The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado has been even more lucrative than previously imagined. The pot industry in the state – which voted in favor of legalization in 2012 – brought in a whopping $1.1 billion in sales of both medical and recreational cannabis. According to the Denver Post, data from the state’s Department of Revenue showed $82.8 million in recreational pot sales in October alone. This far exceeds the $996 million earned in 2015.
“This milestone continues to show that the cannabis industry in Colorado is an engine of growth for the economy, a job creator, and one of the biggest industries in the state,”Attorney Christian Sederberg stated in a recent CNN interview. “People were consuming cannabis before, but now they are buying it from tax-regulated businesses that are benefiting the economy. This has replaced an underground, illegal market.”
The extreme growth in the emerging marijuana business is having a positive economic effect in the state, which employs over 10,000 people in various pot jobs. In the first 10 months of 2016, Colorado collected over $150 million in taxes from the legal sale of cannabis. This includes nearly $50 million from a specific excise tax that directs funds to school construction projects. The first $40 million collected annually from the excise tax is earmarked for the school projects.
Financial analysts believe that the pot industry could bring in a staggering $22 billion annually nationwide by the year 2020. Cannabis careers are also expected to grow nationally; within a few years, legal marijuana could create over a quarter of a million jobs. In a country coming out of an epic recession, this is great news. However, the election of Donald Trump could cause trouble, as his current pick for attorney general is notoriously anti-pot.
Despite fears of a crackdown on legal cannabis, business continues to thrive. As pot sales grow, and the number of states approving medical or recreational use increases, the economic results speak for themselves. And in a time of great need for tax revenue and job creation, legal pot is an obvious yes.