There is a statistic that I ran across today that I found quite remarkable. Legal cannabis sales in the United States are expected to reach as high as $2.57 billion this year. That is only the sales for medical marijuana in the 21 states allowing its sale. At the same time, Colorado is reporting a continuing increase in legal marijuana sales with $19 million in recreational pot sale for March — up from $14 million from February. The figures reveal the greatest challenge for opponents. As revenues and experimentation increases, there will be greater pressure for legalization. Businesses are likely to take note of a 2.5 billion dollar industry that has taken hold even with the limitations of medical marijuana and less than half of the states participating. Both the money and the public response appear to be moving in favor of the legalization movement.
Colorado is reporting $7.3 million in taxes for sales, not including medical marijuana sales taxes and licenses. When medical marijuana is included, the amount rises to $12.6 million. The trend is a steady increase: $1.4 million in January, $1.43 million in February and now $1.898 million in March. At the same time, Denver is reporting a slight decrease in crime. That may have no relation to the law but advocates point out that opponents predicted a sharp increase in crime. Notably, since recreational marijuana is taxed more heavily than medical marijuana, the tax revenues for recreational marijuana are expected to bring in the greatest amount of revenue for the state. In total, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper projected in February that total Colorado marijuana sales could approach $1 billion. That does not include tourism dollars from those who come to the state to experience legal marijuana.
The figure that bowled me over however was the revenue nationally from medical marijuana. As we have seen with the immigration reform movement, the addition of businesses in pushing for legal reform can be a game changer politically.