Ten states that have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes collected almost $2.7 billion in taxes on pot products last year as sales surged and more regulatory structures came online.
A new report from the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, estimates that states have collected a total of $7.9 billion in tax revenue since the first states — Washington and Colorado — began allowing recreational pot sales in 2014.
Tax revenue generated by marijuana sales have showed substantial year-over-year growth in every state that has voted to legalize recreational use. Those sales took off in 2020, when Americans stuck at home purchased more marijuana for use during the lockdowns.
California, the nation’s most populous state, has become the largest legal marijuana market. Recreational sales began in 2018, but growth lagged because of sustained interest in the grey market of medical marijuana providers that continued serving a large number of customers.
But California’s government collected more than $1 billion in recreational marijuana taxes last year, according to figures from the state Department of Finance. Tax revenues were up 62 percent over 2019.
Washington collected $614 million in marijuana tax revenue last year, not counting millions more in local taxes levied by cities and towns where recreational pot is sold in retail establishments. Washington collected a higher amount of tax revenue from legal marijuana than the state did from alcohol in both the last two fiscal years.
In Colorado, budget officials counted $362 million in marijuana taxes in 2020, up from $279 million the year before. Oregon tallied $158 million in pot taxes, and Nevada collected $123 million, much of which was diverted to the state’s rainy day fund.
Massachusetts voters approved recreational marijuana in 2016, and by last year the state raked in $118 million in taxes. Michigan approved recreational pot in 2018, and the state