12.13.2016
policy

Legal Pot Breaks Revenue Highs in Colorado, Oregon, and Even Illinois

Surely, the profit motive is a stepping stone along the path of destiny.

Marijuana generates a lot of money. From seed-to-sale, pot is a cash crop. And in states where the herb is legal, cannabis is working for The Man, too. Taxes generated from legal weed sales are in the tens of millions of dollars—as in around $50 million per state.

In Illinois, where a deeply flawed and hampered medical marijuana program has been in effect for just more than one year, a reported 13,200 patients bought $4.4 million of cannabis in November 2016 alone. According to the St. Louis-Post Dispatch, total weed sales in the Land of Lincoln now top $30 million, and the number of state-approved dispensaries has reached 47.

Illinois is not the only state making major skrilla off its weed. In Colorado, legal pot sales reportedly reached $1 billion as of October of this year, with $49.7 million being paid in state taxes. Other sectors of the Rocky Mountain state economy felt the impact of legal weed's presence as well. In Oregon, where consumers pay a 17 percent tax on recreational weed, the state’s legal marijuana industry reportedly generated $54.5 million in taxes, just from rec sales. 

But legal marijuana, as an emerging and grudgingly stigmatized industry, still has a few hurdles to float over. 

As much as the normalization movement promotes marijuana as medicine, advocates might be wise to really sell the federal legalization dream on the basis that weed generates cash.

For example, much of the aforementioned astronomic economic gain is being pocketed by already rich, white people. As reported earlier this year by BuzzFeed’s Amanda Chicago Lewis, “Fewer than three dozen of the 3,200 to 3,600 storefront marijuana dispensaries in the United States are owned by black people—about 1 percent.” Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike reiterated the imbalance of this Drug-War-wrong in an op-ed published by Rolling Stone this week. 

As much as the normalization movement promotes marijuana as medicine, advocates might be wise to really sell the federal legalization dream on the basis that weed generates cash, and legal weed ensures that a significant portion of said cash will be taxed––even if that legal weed money being taxed can’t yet be stored in banks, which is another hurdle on its own. 

Though legal cannabis has gotten a few things right: Women own, run, and manage a significant portion of weed businesses. And California’s recently passed Proposition 64 begins to address racial inequity––the initiative will allow people who picked up felony drug convictions during the racially biased war on drugs to enter the California weed world as entrepreneurs. 

Legal marijuana is about more than money. It is indeed a social movement. But the bottom line to advancing that social movement may in fact be: As far as federal and state governments are concerned, legalizing weed is all about the money.

 

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