It’s been 5 years since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado; Here’s where the tax money stands

In just a few days, Denver will hit the five-year mark for the country’s first commercial cannabis market. Jan. 1 is the anniversary of legal and recreational marijuana in Colorado. As Denver approaches the milestone, the city shared the following statistics looking back over the years:

  • Recreational marijuana sales in Denver 2014-2017: $1.038 billion
  • Recreational marijuana sales in Denver Jan.-Oct. 2018: $327 million
  • Total combined recreational and medical marijuana sales in Denver 2014-Oct. 2018: $2.28 billion
  • Recreational and medical marijuana revenue for Denver combining sales tax, state share back, licensing fees and Denver’s special tax on recreational marijuana 2014-Oct. 2018: $173.1 million
  • Tax revenue budgeted for key marijuana management elements of regulation, enforcement and education in Denver 2014-2018: $36.6 million
  • There are currently 216 locations where medical and/or recreational marijuana can be purchased in Denver.

Education: Denver dedicated $12.8 million toward education between 2014 and 2018. This includes:

  • Funding for 8 different youth diversion programs
  • Denver Public Schools training programs in 15 different schools consisting of substance prevention programs
  • Denver’s High Costs youth education and prevention campaign featuring the first marijuana game show and a card educational game to give youth the facts to make educated decisions and have accurate peer-to-peer conversations

Notable budgeted investments from marijuana tax dollars in 2018:

  • $5 million from marijuana revenue for deferred capital maintenance
  • $4 million from marijuana revenue to fix aging parks and recreation centers citywide
  • An estimated $8 million per year to support the doubling of Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund

Milestones for marijuana in Denver include:

2012: Colorado voters approve Amendment 64, decriminalizing adult possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and establishing a regulated market and licensed commercial marijuana distribution system.
2014: Retail sales of cannabis begin in Denver. Office of Marijuana Policy is established.
2015: Denver hosts the world’s first-ever Marijuana Management Symposium to serve as a valuable resource for other cities attempting to prepare for the administrative, legal, safety and business implications of marijuana legalization.
2017: The Department of Public Health and Environment releases its first Cannabis Environmental Best Management Practices Guide , providing cannabis cultivators with environmental standards related to energy and water use reduction, waste minimization and pest control.
2018: Mayor Hancock and other officials from cities in states with legalization form first-of-its-kind government-led coalition to establish a national framework to proactively prepare governments for implementation of legalized marijuana.
2018: Mayor Hancock announces a citywide effort to expunge marijuana convictions for conduct that is now legal.

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