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Where Does Colorado Cannabis Tax Money Go?

Colorado Cannabis & The Federal Tax Code

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Colorado state tax revenue from the legal cannabis industry surpassed $2 billion in January and the state has collected more than $88.7 million in fees.

In addition to state and local taxes and fees, cannabis businesses have an effective federal tax rate of about 70% – compared to about 26% for other businesses. 

Did you know Colorado legal cannabis dispensary owners are unable to deduct normal business expenses like payroll and rent from their federal income taxes?

Marijuana has contributed over $320 Million dollars to Building Excellent Schools Today (B.E.S.T.), making up about 25% of the program's entire budget.

In FY 21-22 alone, nearly $15.3 million in state cannabis dollars went to state Affordable Housing Grant and Loans.

The Marijuana Tax Cash Fund collected $188.8 Million in FY 2021-22 alone.

In FY 21-22 alone, nearly $15 million in cannabis dollars went to the School Health Professional Grant program. 

More than $15 million in cannabis dollars went to substance abuse treatment in FY 21-22.

More than $1.6 million cannabis dollars went to the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program in FY 21-22.

Voters in 59 of 64 Colorado counties voted no on Proposition 119 sending a clear message against raising taxes on cannabis consumers.

Unlike other legalized substances, the marijuana industry has a 97% compliance rate for unauthorized sales.

Unlike alcohol, research has proven you can only get “so high.” Cannabinoid receptors in your brain eventually prevent the body from getting further intoxicated.

Did you know? Since legalization in 2005, teen use in Colorado has remained flat and is below the national average.

According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, more than 90% of Americans think cannabis use should be legal.

Did you know? MIG represents more than 400 cannabis business licenses across the state.

A 2021 study found that medical cannabis use was associated with clinical improvements in pain, function, and quality of life with reductions in prescription drug use. 

Founded in 2010, MIG is the oldest and largest trade association for licensed cannabis businesses.

Colorado’s marijuana model has become the example for all other regulated cannabis states, and MIG works directly with policy makers to ensure that Colorado’s program is fair, tightly regulated, safe, and successful.

Safe Sales: Every marijuana sale in CO takes place on camera and requires multiple ID checks.

All regulated marijuana in Colorado is tracked from “seed to sale,” with oversight from the Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Established in 2010, MIG has led legislation for child resistant packaging, customer safety resources, and purchase restrictions for 18-20 year olds.

Marijuana is taxed at both state and local levels. This year Aurora built a new $34 Million dollar rec center, fully funded by local marijuana taxes.

The marijuana industry suffers from unfair Federal tax rules, which means that MIG members’ effective tax rates are around 71%.

A 2019 study showed that crime does not increase with legalization.

Conditions for medical marijuana

Cancer - Glaucoma - HIV or AIDS - Cachexia - Persistent muscle spasms - Seizures - Severe nausea - Any condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid - Autism Spectrum Disorder - Severe pain - PTSD

Most marijuana businesses have access to banks, but because marijuana is still federally illegal, businesses are unable to access merchant processing services such as VISA or Mastercard.

Consuming higher potency marijuana does not lead to higher levels of impairment.
-- Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 2020

71% of Colorado voters favor marijuana legalization. This has increased 10 points in the last four years alone.

Hickenlooper Calls on DOT to Complete Report on Marijuana-Impaired Driving Research

For Immediate Release

November 16, 2022


Contact: Anthony Rivera-Rodriguez

(202) 836-0797

Hickenlooper Calls on DOT to Complete Report on Marijuana-Impaired Driving Research  


Report related to researching marijuana-impaired driving was mandated as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law one year ago


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper requested an update from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the status of a report identifying federal barriers to researching the effects of marijuana-impaired driving. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Hickenlooper helped write, DOT is required to submit a report to Congress by November 2023 that identifies federal statutory and regulatory barriers to the conduct of scientific research on marijuana-impaired driving.

“The report required by Section 25026 of the IIJA is a critical first step to identify the barriers that prevent the development of an impairment standard for driving after consuming marijuana,” wrote Hickenlooper. “As implementation of IIJA continues, I would like to understand the progress made to date to produce the report on marijuana research required by the statute.”

Due to marijuana’s classification as a controlled substance on a federal level, researchers face many significant barriers to the research of marijuana’s effects. For marijuana-impaired driving in particular, federal researchers’ ability to evaluate marijuana’s effects on a driver’s performance, develop tests to accurately detect the presence of THC in a driver’s body, or determine what levels of THC constitute an impairment have been significantly restricted.

Eighteen states have laws pertaining to marijuana and impaired driving, but Colorado is the only state where a driver who surpasses a 5 nanogram THC concentration level can be penalized for driving under the influence (DUI). The report is supported by the National Safety Coalition and Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.

“While we know that the use of marijuana is impairing, we do not have a national standard for marijuana impaired driving.  We urge the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to move forward with the report on marijuana research which Sen. Hickenlooper advanced in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to help further the identification of a standard.  The DOT also must establish safety standards for lifesaving vehicle safety technology including impaired driving prevention technology and automatic emergency braking (AEB) to reduce the intolerable motor vehicle crash death and injury toll.  On the one-year anniversary of the law’s signing with fatalities escalating, the urgency to take action is clear,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.


“Multi-substance impaired driving is an epidemic on our roadways, and we need more information to help solve it. Sen. Hickenlooper led an important provision to expand marijuana impaired driving data that is key to creating needed solutions,” said Jenny Burke, vice president of impairment practice at National Safety Council. “As we mark the one year anniversary of the IIJA, I hope NHTSA moves quickly to implement this provision, which could impact safety well beyond the roadways.”


Full text of the letter is available HERE and below:


Dear Acting Administrator Carlson:


I write to you regarding the Biden Administration’s ongoing efforts to implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) provisions to improve roadway safety for all Americans. The anniversary of this historic law represents an opportunity to celebrate the results IIJA is delivering to the American people to increase critical infrastructure resiliency against climate change, improve mobility, and enhance safety for motorists and pedestrians. As implementation of IIJA continues, I would like to understand the progress made to date to produce the report on marijuana research required by the statute.


Preventing distracted or impaired driving is a key step towards the goal of reducing traffic fatalities and improving roadway safety. In 2021, nearly 43,000 fatalities occurred from motor vehicle crashes, which is among the highest annual totals in decades. While the IIJA includes many laudable provisions to establish performance standards for crash avoidance technologies, evaluate monitoring systems to reduce distracted driving, and issue rules to detect a driver’s impaired status, many ambiguities around defining marijuana-impaired driving underscore the importance of clarifying this policy uncertainty.


Recent federal studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), National Academies of Sciences (NAS), and the National Institute of Health (NIH) reviewed the impact of marijuana-impaired driving within the limits of current federal law. These studies, however, were limited to surveys of existing academic literature and therefore only produced findings that are unable to be independently verified scientifically by the agency. Due to the statutory classification of marijuana as a controlled substance, federal researchers face barriers not only to evaluating marijuana’s effects on a driver’s performance, but also in developing tests to accurately detect the amount of THC in a driver’s body or determine a THC impairment level.


The report required by Section 25026 of the IIJA is a critical first step to identify the barriers that prevent the development of an impairment standard for driving after consuming marijuana. Once these barriers are identified, informed by interagency consensus, Congress would have a suite of policy recommendations to consider and implement that further advance our shared goal to prevent impaired driving and reduce roadway fatalities.


I look forward to learning about NHTSA’s progress to develop the interagency report on barriers to researching marijuana-impaired driving. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can offer any support toward completing this report. Thank you for your attention to this important manner.





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