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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.

Record Low Cannabis Sales Spell Trouble for Tax Revenues

MIG Press Release


DATE: November 17, 2022

CONTACT: Madeleine Schmidt


Record Low Cannabis Sales Spell Trouble for Tax Revenues

Continued Sales Decline Threatens Important Public Programs that Rely on Cannabis Tax Money


DENVER – Today’s release of the most recent marijuana sales data shows continued sales decline for the industry and an estimated nearly $100M reduction in Colorado’s marijuana tax revenues for 2022. Gov. Polis’ proposed budget released on Nov. 1 acknowledges as such and is even asking for an external influx of funding to prop up the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). 


Data released on Wednesday showed a 19% sales decrease for marijuana sales for September, the most recent data. This includes a 14% year over year decrease in recreational sales and a 42% decrease in medical sales. Sales of marijuana have now declined consistently for more than a year. Taxes and fees collected for October, the most recent tax data, show that the state is on track to collect $97.2M less in revenue than in calendar year 2021. 


“Our industry is made up of hundreds of small business owners and tens of thousands of Coloradans trying to make a living. These sales declines aren’t just numbers on a sheet of paper; they represent the loss of people's livelihoods and their dreams of running their own business. With the current decline in sales, we are seeing multiple rounds of layoffs across our industry, representing thousands of lost jobs,” said Tiffany Goldman, board chair of the Marijuana Industry Group. “The state must appreciate that the marijuana industry is an important part of our economy and we cannot withstand more pressure in the form of unnecessary regulations and new taxes that put small businesses at risk.”


“With the release of Gov. Polis’ budget, the state is now seeing what we have been saying for years: the days of counting on unlimited tax revenue from marijuana are over,” said Truman Bradley, Executive Director of the Marijuana Industry Group. “Marijuana tax money is not a piggy bank for the state government. This $100M decrease in marijuana taxes will have real impacts on what the state can fund, including affordable housing, mental health services, public safety, and more. These are real impacts for the marijuana employees and small business owners as well as every single person who benefits from marijuana tax funded projects.” 





About MIG: MIG was founded in 2010 by cannabis business owners and supporters who wanted to help craft Colorado’s earliest medical marijuana regulatory framework. MIG is the oldest and largest trade association for licensed cannabis businesses. Comprising approximately 500 business licenses, MIG has strong representation and connections across the state.

Additional Info

Media Contact : Madeleine Schmidt

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