8 States That Will Make Millions Taxing Marijuana

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1. Alaska
> Marijuana tax: $50 per oz. wholesale
> 18+ pop. usage rate: 22.3% (2nd highest)
> Recreational use legal as of: Feb. 24, 2015
> FY2015 per capita state tax collections: $1,170 (the lowest)

The first marijuana store in Alaska opened in October 2016. For this reason, the state has not had long to benefit from a marijuana tax. Alaska taxes the transfer of marijuana, from the cultivation facility to the retailer. Taxes are due on a monthly basis at a rate of $50 per ounce of bud or flower, and $15 per ounce of other parts of the plant, such as stems and leaves.

An average 22.3% of Alaskans age 18 and up use marijuana at least once a year, the second highest share of any state and well above the comparable 13.4% national share. Alaska’s marijuana revenue increased over the first three months of sale, but dipped slightly in January. By the end of June, the state anticipates total marijuana tax revenue to top $5 million. Under state law, half of that money will go to programs to keep people out of prison, and the other half will be allocated to the state’s general fund.

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2. California
> Marijuana tax: 15% sales tax/$9.25 per oz. wholesale
> 18+ pop. usage rate: 15.4% (12th highest)
> Recreational use legal as of: Jan. 1, 2018
> FY2015 per capita state tax collections: $3,862 (9th highest)

This past fall, voters in California approved Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana use. Though adults in the state are now legally allowed to possess their own personal pot, non-medical marijuana dispensaries will not be officially licensed until the beginning of 2018 to allow the state time to develop appropriate regulations. When the first marijuana retailer opens next year, the state will impose a 15% sales tax. It will also tax cultivators $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves and stems. Local governments are also authorized to levy their own tax.

The most populous state in the country, California also has the largest potential source of marijuana tax revenue. Some 4.5 million Californians age 18 and up use marijuana at least once year — well more than double the number in any other state. The state anticipates up to $1 billion in annual marijuana tax revenue, which among other things will be used to cover enforcement costs and fund youth drug education programs.

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3. Colorado
> Marijuana tax: 15% wholesale/10% sales tax
> 18+ pop. usage rate: 23.6% (the highest)
> Recreational use legal as of: Dec. 10, 2012
> FY2015 per capita state tax collections: $2,348 (14th lowest)

In the fall of 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to vote to legalize recreational marijuana. Though adults in Colorado have been allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana since December 2012, the first marijuana retailers in the state opened on January 1, 2014. Since then, Colorado has collected millions of dollars in pot taxes. In fiscal 2016 alone, the state collected $5.3 million in marijuana recreational license and application fees and another $19.4 million in retail sales taxes. Currently, Colorado levies a 15% excise on the average retail market price of pot for cultivators, as well as a 10% marijuana sales tax at the retail level. In order to deter consumers from turning to the black market, the sales tax will fall to 8% on July 1, 2017.

As one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, it may not be surprising that marijuana use is relatively common in Colorado. Of the state’s 18 and older population, 23.6% use marijuana at least once a year, the largest such share of any state.