It seems there is only good news to be reported in Colorado three months after the state legalized recreational marijuana. New reports indicate that Colorado is experiencing a tax windfall as a result of the new law and predictions of a spike in the crime rate have not come to fruition.
The Weed Blog reports that Colorado raked in $22 million in tax revenue in its previous fiscal year. That is a significant number but it only accounts for money generated from the legal sales of medical marijuana during that time. Tax dollars coming into state coffers as a result of the relaxed regulations for recreational use have reached $12.6 million in the first three months of 2014 alone.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed legalization, expects the number to grow significantly as recreational sales continue to climb in the coming years.
The budget proposal submitted by the governor’s office in February predicts tax revenues for combined medical and recreational marijuana sales will reach $134 million in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July. The Denver Post reported that the proposal indicates the governor’s office expects to see sales of marijuana top $1 billion, with recreational sales accounting for about $600 million of the total.
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The only problem left for the state is to decide how to spend the money.
It certainly will not be needed to beef up law enforcement efforts. The Huffington Post recently reported that crime in Denver has not risen since the new rules took effect.
Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver had predicted dire consequences for the state back when lawmakers were still considering legalization.
“Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere," he said in a 2012 statement. "I think our entire state will pay the price."
However, recent data released by the city of Denver indicates that property crime fell 14.6 percent in the first two months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. Violent crime is also down but only by 2.4 percent.
The District of Columbia and 20 other states currently have laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Washington state is the only other state that currently allows recreational use although about a dozen other states are currently considering adopting similar laws.