Legal Cannabis is Literally Transforming Cities — Funding Roads, Schools, Charities and More

cannabis-revenuBy Justin Gardner

Two years after Colorado began its first retail sales of cannabis, towns and cities across the state are enjoying the benefits in a number of ways. With sales this year expected to reach $1 billion, local governments are seeing windfalls of tax revenue, which is funding education, recreation, infrastructure improvements, and even aid to the homeless.

The small town of Mountain View may be able to dispel its reputation for collecting revenue through speeding tickets, now that two pot shops reside there.

“We have such a small tax base,” said Mayor Jeff Kiddie, who opposed pot stores. “Medical and retail marijuana have definitely helped the town’s bottom line. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.”

Similar stories abound in the 22 counties and 62 cities that allow retail cannabis sales.

In Aurora, which has collected millions in sales taxes and fees since October 2014, the City Council keeps the money in a separate fund so it can show the public exactly where cannabis revenue is spent. $1.5 million will be used to address the homeless issue, $2.8 million will go toward a recreation center, and $3.8 million will fund an Interstate 225 crossing.

Northglenn uses the money for capital projects and to purchase water rights. Adams County will spend $500,000 on scholarships for low-income students. Filling potholes and fixing roads is a common theme in other towns.

“There’s a lot of money left over to address safety issues that come up or really take on projects that these local communities do not necessarily have the funds to deal with,” said Mike Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. “For some communities, this tax revenue has made a huge difference.”

Denver collected $29 million last year through taxes and licensing fees; the capitol city prefers to spend this revenue on “ramped-up regulation, enforcement, public health and education efforts.”

While bureaucrats both honest and crooked are reveling in the flush of cash, more importantly, Colorado citizens are reveling in their newfound freedom. Judging by the immense market impact of retail sales, cannabis is a popular product.

Perhaps people are finding it a better and safer alternative than alcohol. There is evidence that people are giving up prescription painkillers in favor of medical cannabis.

A fifth major benefit of legal cannabis sales is the dwindling black market. The federal government’s own statistics show that since 2012, when Washington and Colorado voted to legalize cannabis, trafficking offenses have fallen sharply.

Violence is less of a concern in cannabis trafficking than the issue of unknown origin and handling. With legalization, consumers know exactly where their product comes from and what is in it, including the THC content.

Competition that can operate in the open, instead of having to hide from a senseless drug war, is able to produce the highest quality product using responsible environmental practices.

The temptation of tax revenue is certainly one reason why lawmakers in Colorado and other states have endorsed recreational cannabis sales. But taxation should not be the guiding force for legalization.

Oregon is proving this point. Authorities in the Beaver State have enacted a 25 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis, which is causing some people to consider going back to the black market. This eagerness to collect as much revenue as possible is a symptom of burgeoning government and threatens to drive people away from the legal market.

On the good side, Oregon does not tax medical cannabis at all, perhaps because their medical laws have been in existence since 1998 and sudden taxation would meet with fierce resistance. It is important that other states, as they legalize medical use and sales, follow this example of no taxation.

Colorado continues to provide an interesting experiment in the legalization of a plant that has been demonized by government for decades. While taxation of recreational use is allowing cities to provide community benefits, let’s remember that freedom is the number one reason why legalization must happen everywhere.

Justin Gardner writes for, where this article first appeared.

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17 Comments on "Legal Cannabis is Literally Transforming Cities — Funding Roads, Schools, Charities and More"


  2. Freedom is the number 1 reason it shouldn’t be taxed the way it is also. It’s a common weed which requires no pesticides, or fertilizers and it kills invading weeds, so no herbicides and it nitrogenizes the soil. Marijuana also provides us with food, oils for medicine, fuel, plastics and fiber that makes textiles stronger than sisal or cotton, Think rope, sail canvas’ and remember Levi Strauss. Using the “reasoning” of our elected idiots, it could be assumed that an outrageous tax will soon be levied on corn, rice, wheat, barley, hops, grapes and all other fruits because alcohol can be made from them. If tax is theft, then what the governments are doing is “grand theft” and unconstitutional. They have no moral or legal authority to tax it any more than broccoli or sugar peas.
    By the way; Good article

    • GrandmaAmerica | May 29, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Reply

      Keep believing it. Sad…..

    • You’re right, it shouldn’t be taxed, neither should any kind of food or medicine. Another missing concept here is that the high prices being paid for marijuana are merely diverting money from other resources or productive uses. Something’s gotta give, money spent on marijuana means less for healthy food, home maintenance, personal care. We’re not the elites, not The Fed, don’t have printing presses. The largess in CO is owing to a booming economy of the Denver metro area. At some point the music stops.

      • Most food, (produce and meat) is already non taxed. It’s the highly processed and prepared foods that are taxed, and I’m ok with that. Medicine is also tax free. The high prices set on the MJ industry was originally because of its illegal status. The corrupt politicians seeing the possibility of it becoming “legal” has caused them to go bonkers trying to recapture the lost revenue by the traffickers and the corrupt system they began enacting persecutorial taxes on the users (Like here in Colorado and in Washington). Like the way cigarettes have been taxed. It costs less to grow a pound of pot than a pound of potatoes, and it costs less to make a pound of steel than grow a pound of potatoes. Follow the money and you will see the corruption. Thanks for your reply.

        • I live in CO and coincidentally picked up with several grocery items from the store this morning, all food, all whole foods with one packaged organic cheese, 12 items and every single one was taxed at 4% (Tax A and B categories, these were all A). I guess it depends on the state and CO didn’t tax most food a little over a decade ago. As for MJ in CO, the big organizers were eager to be taxed to help legitimize their industry and as a lure to get the state govt addicted to the gravy train. I’ve never used, but it seems absurdly expensive for a weed, esp. oils for medical use. Too much red tape I guess and possibly a mini-cartel aspect – not quite fully democratized. Yep, Hickenlooper is a piece of work, a bona fide globalist elite schmoozer kicking the homeless out of downtown Denver for the coronation of Obama at the Dem convention; vowing to back industry lawsuits against Ft Collins for passing a law restricting fracking in residential areas; and vetoing a bill allowing citizen input in [Agenda 21] “public private partnerships” such as the I-36 50 year contract….so much for lickenpooper being a “liberal”.

          • mnkysnkle | May 31, 2016 at 4:05 pm |

            I agree with you on the covnr’. He’s certainly a piece of work. He’s in deep with the UN and we’re already seeing the results in the water issues coming to a head. But your food tax is off. I believe maybe you bought prepared foods. Organic doesn’t mean anything. Cheese is a prepared food, as are frozen cut vegetables and virtually all boxed and packaged foods. Rice, beans and things like that being the exception. The codes are usually noted in the sum area, but now I’m gonna have to check my next receipt. arrrgh!! Thanks again.
            PS: Were you paying attention when the royal family came out to congratulate the fawning govn’r on his “groundbreaking” gun control legislation? Ironic they had in their arms the future king george. Maybe he’s gonna reclaim the colonies for his g-g-g-great grampaw.

          • I don’t watch the boob tube, I missed the royals chiming in. Thank goodness, way too nauseating for me. I’m sure about the 4% tax and it was on vegetables, greens, meat – everything on the receipt, the math adds up, exactly 4% of the total. I see it on my receipts all the time. I looked up the tax policies after our exchange and found a govt link stating no taxes on food purchases in CO (and other states, I guess) when govt subsidies are used to purchase but when cash (or credit card) is used then the usual taxes apply. The system is always rigged!

    • After prohibition the criminal empire including our corrupt establishment crooks needed a new “alcohol” to be illegal. You can only make massive profits if the substance is illegal. I was amazed to read that the number of illegal pot sales arrests went down – wow! what geniuses to have figured that out. If all drugs were made legal then all drug related crime would disappear. Just imagine all the money saved by not locking up drug trafficers and pushers – fewer courts needed, fewer attorneys, fewer cops, fewer prisons, etc. and now you know who has an incentive to keep all drugs illegal.

      • I am an advocate for the legalization of MJ only, as I believe it was intentionally misclassified by the U.S. government to maintain its police state, increase its revenue and protect certain other industries (DuPont in particular). As far as trafficking and pushing drugs that are highly addictive and deadly are concerned, I believe the laws should still apply. As far as the addicts are concerned, the laws should help them instead of incarcerating them. It’s nice to know that we are finally awakening to the corruption of our ‘law-makers” and the laws they are making. Maybe, just maybe the fight has just begun. Thanks for your reply

        • Your thinking is the reason that the cartels and drug pushers exist. The very first important thing to solve is the drug crime. If all drugs were available to addicts then

          • mnkysnkle | May 31, 2016 at 3:02 pm |

            That’s your opinion. I don’t think you understood my post and I don’t believe you’re thinking it through.

    • Rudy Campilii | May 31, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Reply

      I agree wholeheartedly. I want the government out of my pocket and out of running every aspect of my daily life. Did you know that the Nazis wanted to micro manage every aspect of daily life of every German citizen? Can you tell me the difference between the Nazis and what passes as the land of the free? I sure can’t.

  3. Come on, give me a chance. I’m not the psycho that I’m portrayed to be. I may look that way with my frazzled hair and funky smell but I’m grounded in reality and I can do so much for you.

  4. y3shuA imMANu3l | May 29, 2016 at 9:17 pm | Reply



  5. The one thing that Obozo would be appreciated for would be supporting legalization of pot, but the hemp smoker himself has even sold out on that issue to the special interests. He is now a 100% disappointment.

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