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Edibles make up about 12 percent of sales.

Mike Pomranz
July 20, 2017

Some people may still try to debate that legalizing recreational marijuana doesn’t benefit the public, but it’s certainly tough to debate that legal pot isn’t good for government coffers. A new report estimates that since Colorado legalized pot over three years ago, the new industry has raised over half a billion dollars in tax revenue for state and local governments: $506,143,635 to be exact. Yup, they estimated the number down to the dollar: Every pot brownie counts.

The numbers come from the Denver-based marijuana consulting firm VS Strategies who pulled its data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. The $500 million-plus figure comes not only from excise and sales taxes earned on both recreational and medical marijuana, but also from license and application fees charged to cannabis businesses, all calculated from when recreational sales became legal in Colorado on January 1, 2014 until May 31 of this year. VS Strategies even honored this half billion milestone by issuing a fake oversized check to Colorado state Rep. Jonathan Singer.

As the Huffington Post points out, these figures show that marijuana now accounts for more sales than Colorado’s number one cash crop, corn. In fact, in 2016, pot sales exceeded $1.3 billion dollars. Meanwhile, corn moved just $569 million worth of product that same year. Additionally, one estimate from last year suggested that about 12 percent of marijuana sales came in the form of edibles, meaning that probably over $150 million in 2016 was raised from the sale of edibles alone. By comparison, Colorado is America’s seventh largest producer of peaches: The state produced $27 million worth. Yup, Colorado is making five times more money selling edible weed than its most lucrative edible fruit.

But the best news of all is probably where all that tax revenue is going. According to VS Strategies, for the current fiscal year, over half of it will go to support K-12 education. Those kids are going to need that education to succeed in Colorado’s lucrative marijuana business.