Oregon’s Legal Marijuana Raised More Than $25 Million In Tax Revenue This Year
CNN - By. Kate Samuelson - 08/23/2016
A statement on the Department of Revenue website explains that medical marijuana dispensaries started collecting a 25% tax on their recreational marijuana sales in January, which spokeswoman Joy Krawczyk told KGW has contributed to the high amount of tax, the revenue of which will pay for police, addiction programs and schools in the state.
In January alone, the state collected $3.48 million in taxes.
In 2014, Colorado brought in $76 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales when the state became one of just two (along with Washington) to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 or older. Figures from the state’s Department of Revenue in 2015 showed that itoutpaced revenue from alcohol taxes in the fiscal year ending on June 30.
By July 8 this year, Washington state’s treasury had taken in more than $250 million in excise tax since marijuana legalization began in July 2014.
What Gambling Can Tell Us About Legalizing Marijuana
ATTN: - Keith Stroup - 08/19/16
I am old enough to remember when Nevada was the only state where gambling was legal. In 1931, during the Great Depression, the state legislature had legalized casino gambling as a way to stimulate their economy, create new jobs, and entice more people to the state.
For decades Nevada had a monopoly on casino gambling — that, along with legalizing “no fault” divorces, and later legalizing prostitution — when most states did not offer those options. These factors combined to give Nevada a reputation as a maverick state where people could visit to engage in naughty behavior without legal consequences. “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.”
The state is expected to legalize the recreational use of marijuana via voter initiative (Question 2) this November, which will further enhance that reputation.
Other states obviously knew that legal gambling was an alternative that might provide an economic boost to their states as well, but the prevailing morality at the time was far too negative towards gambling for elected officials in other states to pursue. It was a time when the religious communities had successfully convinced most Americans that a life of virtue, not vices, was the path to happiness.
But social mores change over time, and as gambling began to be seen as a legitimate form of entertainment, instead of a moral sin, the tax revenue and economic benefits from legal gambling were more attractive. In 1977, by voter initiative, New Jersey legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City, offering an east coast version of Nevada, where gambling hedonists could legally do what they could not yet do in their own states.
And gradually the barriers banning legal gambling began to crumble nationwide, leading to a situation today in which every state has some form of legal gambling, such as state-run lotteries, albeit with strange limitations in some states (e.g., in Missouri it is illegal to gamble on land, but perfectly legal to have casinos on riverboats on the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, although the boats never leave the shore).
Which leads to the question of why behavior thought by many to be inappropriate (or even morally offensive), can nonetheless sometimes be legalized? Or put another way, when is conduct with the tinge of sinfulness out-weighted by the potential for economic benefits to the states?
I raise that question because of the increasingly profitable side of legal marijuana in the states that have elected to regulate and tax marijuana. As the latest revenue data make clear, legalizing marijuana has been an enormous benefit for the few states that have taken that step, and that fact will be more and more difficult for neighboring states to ignore over the coming years. As we saw with gambling, once the economic benefits of legal marijuana are obvious, the moral opposition will fade and the economic arguments will prevail.
The Latest Data from Colorado and Washington.
In Colorado, the first state to get their legal retail outlets up and running on January 1, 2014, the gross sales of marijuana, and the tax revenue to the state, have continued to rise each year. For 2015, licensed marijuana stores in the state totaled an astounding $996,184,788 – just shy of $1 billion dollars, up from $669 million in sales in 2014.
Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes and fees last year (including $35 million dedicated to school construction), up from $76 million in 2014 (when $13.3 million was raised for schools).
In Washington state, marijuana retail sales reached $322,823,639 in 2015, up from only $30,783,880 in 2014, when retail outlets were open for only a portion of the year. That 2015 sales figure has already been eclipsed in the first seven months of 2016.
The state retail tax revenue for fiscal year 2016 from recreational marijuana sales totaled $30,017,823, while state retail sales taxes from the sale of medical marijuana totaled $5,236,536. Local retail sales tax totaled $11,228,861 from recreational sales, and local retail tax totaled $2,084,323 for medical sales.
These, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump might say, are “yugee” numbers, and they are continuing to increase each year, making them more and more difficult to ignore by other states.
Which brings me to my main point. At a time when several national polls confirm that between 55 and 61 percent of the entire country now favor full legalization, it is difficult to argue that marijuana smoking is, any longer, considered immoral behavior. Sure, there are pockets of fundamental moralists to whom anything pleasurable will always be suspect behavior, including sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. But this puritanical perspective is finding less and less support each year, and when balanced with the economic windfall that results when a state legalizes marijuana, it simply cannot prevail.
Today a majority of Americans under 65 support marijuana legalization, particularly younger adults: 71 percent of adults under 35 think marijuana use should be legal, a jump of 10 points since last year. The demographics are clear and unstoppable, as younger voters replace those over 65.
Just as all states now have some form of legal gambling, within a few short years, all states will offer some form of legal marijuana. It’s the smart thing to do; it’s the right thing to do; and it’s inevitable in a democracy, when most people want it.
Keith Stroup is a Washington, D.C. public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970.
San Francisco Now Has a Cannabis Country Club
Travel + Leisure - By. Cailey Rizzo - 08/20/2016
If a drug den isn’t your preferred venue for toking, elevate your marijuana experience at San Francisco’s very first private cannabis club.
Harvest, a San Francisco dispensary, announced the opening of its members-only club last week. Already, the lounge is being compared to a cannabis country club for its steep fees, exclusive membership, and tasteful decor—brown leather couches, oriental rugs, and glass ashtrays (duh).
While anyone can buy pot from the dispensary, only members can get access to the smoking room in back. Other perks of membership include a locker for storing goods, invites to educational events and, of course, the ability to puff, puff, pass with the city’s other well-heeled pot aficionados.
Those who aspire to membership have to go through an application process and, if accepted, “pay monthly fees comparable to the cost of an Equinox gym membership,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (An Equinox memberships runs about $200 per month, for those wondering.)
Thousands of people are in Harvest’s collective (basically a list of people who have registered to buy pot from the dispensary), but founders envision the private club only having a couple hundred members. Applicants have to pass a criminal background check and be personally approved by Harvest’s founders.
Although Harvest isn’t the first dispensary to allow use of their product in the back, it’s the only dispensary in California that charges membership fees to do so. There are a few private club options for the discerning stoner (with cash to throw around) in Denver, however they’re not exactly legal and are occasionally raided by the police.
GFarmaLabs plans to build nation's largest commercial cannabis farm in Desert Hot Springs
By Leticia Juarez
Thursday, June 16, 2016 02:47PM
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. (KABC) --
The first and largest marijuana cultivation farm in Southern California will be located in Desert Hot Springs.
GFarmaLabs is spearheading this initial movement.
"It's going to be filled with greenhouses. It's going to be an agricultural center out in the middle of the desert," Berto Torres of GFarmaLabs said.
Legal marijuana cultivation can prove to be beneficial for the city of Desert Hot Springs. Land values are skyrocketing, and new businesses are sprouting up overnight.
Ben Breinberg moved from the Netherlands five months ago to open a hydroponic business.
"This is going to be the biggest in the world. So yeah, I'm happy to be right in the middle of it," Breinberg said.
However, there are mixed reactions from residents. Desert Hot Springs resident Joan Davis is concerned about the new cultivation businesses.
"We have to look at the big picture. Our children are our future, and where is the future for them and this?" Davis said.
Resident Jonathan Thomas is more supportive.
"If somebody settles here with a business and is doing productive things for the city, I don't see how somebody could have a problem with that," Thomas said.
Everyone, though, agrees that Desert Hot Springs needs the money. The city declared insolvency in 2014.
Mayor Scott Matas said in a statement, "We anticipate the GFarmaLabs project will provide local jobs and spur up to $1 million in tax revenue allowing for more funding for police, education, health resources and infrastructure within the city."