Category Archives: marijuana taxation

Grandpa was wrong….money does grow on trees, Marijuana trees.

Admin; With national debt rising hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt every 30 seconds, I think it would be fair to say that the federal government is trying to keep us in debt, by not legalizing a plant that can cure, create, build, dream, solve problems, and put our country back in credible business…..I think it’s pretty obvious here, that we need to start growing more money trees. Duh!

money does grow on trees

Marijuana Tax Revenue May Top $3 Billion A Year With Legalization

The Huffington Post  | By Matt Ferner

Posted: 09/22/2014 7:40 pm EDT Updated: 09/22/2014 7:59 pm EDT

Money may not grow on trees, but it apparently does grow on marijuana plants. If all 50 states legalized cannabis today, they’d be collectively raking in more than $3 billion a year in taxes.

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Since January, Colorado has reaped more than $37m in taxes from marijuana.

Admin; Colorado may be an experiment, but we aren’t doing too bad for ourselves. Curious if sales drop after tourist season ends, or begins?…. I guess either way, Colorado is a multi- seasonal vacation spot, so maybe sales will only grow? Let them grow…


Colorado now selling more recreational than medical marijuana

Associated Press in Denver

Wednesday 10 September 2014 17.09 EDT

Colorado is now selling more recreational pot than medical pot, a turning point for the newly legal industry.

Tax records released by the state Department of Revenue on Wednesday showed that the state sold $29.7m worth of recreational marijuana in July, the most recent data available. That was slightly higher than the $28.9m worth of medical marijuana sold in June.

Colorado has many more medical pot shops than recreational pot shops, which are open to all over 21. Colorado has some 500 medical shops, fewer than 200 open to all adults.

Since January, Colorado has reaped more than $37m in taxes from marijuana. That figure includes taxes, licenses and fees from both medical and recreational pot.

This article has insight into the overall hypocrisy of anti-marijuana arguments from people that have no problem smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol.

The lonely lot of the anti-pot crusader

Pot legalization opponents find themselves outgunned as the anti-marijuana movement has little funding or staff, little momentum and, apparently, little audience. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

By Richard Leiby July 22

As pro-marijuana forces deployed their sidewalk soldiers to gather signatures to put pot legalization on the District’s November ballot, Aaron McCormick, a 47-year-old city native and father of three, watched with growing alarm.

Somebody must stop this scourge, he decided. But how?

McCormick says he knew of no group fighting the initiative, heard no opposition to it in his church and got no traction for his anti-weed views on his vibrant Twitter account, @blackmanhelping, where he opines on local affairs. McCormick, a construction project manager, considered challenging the ballot initiative himself, but he ultimately realized the futility of fighting an army of marijuana advocates.

Such is the lonely lot of today’s pot opponent. Parents like McCormick, once heroes of the just-say-no 1980s, find themselves outgunned: The anti-marijuana movement has little funding or staff, little momentum and, it appears, little audience.

Decriminalization went into effect last week in the District, setting a $25 penalty for possession of up to an ounce of weed. Earlier in July, pro-marijuana activists scored another victory, submitting 57,000 voter signatures, more than double the number required, to bring the ballot measure, which could add the District to the vanguard of legalization along with Colorado and Washington state.

The coverage of marijuana in PSAs, politics and pop culture has evolved quite a bit since the 1960s. See how the messages about pot have changed as much as the faces delivering them, from Sonny Bono to Barack Obama. (Gillian Brockell contributed to this video) (Kate M. Tobey/The Washington Post)

“I hope and pray that Congress will step in and shut it all down,” McCormick said, noting federal lawmakers’ penchant for trying to block marijuana initiatives in the District. “To me, we just came out of the crack epidemic and are still seeing its effects. Now we want to allow people to smoke marijuana 24-7?”

It would seem so. More than half of Americans support legalization,various polls show. The Pew Research Center has found that 48 percent have tried pot. Seventeen states plus the District have eliminated jail time for possession, and medical marijuana is now okay in nearly half of the United States (23 states plus the District).

“Interestingly, whenever we have a debate on TV, we hear the producer asking, ‘Who can we get to debate against marijuana?’ ” says Tony Newman, spokesman for the reformist Drug Policy Alliance.

The cable-show bookers’ “con” choices are indeed scant.

“It’s unbelievable what’s happened,” says Robert DuPont, a psychiatrist who was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the 1970s. “You can’t find anybody to speak on the other side. . . . The leaders in both parties have completely abandoned the issue.”

DuPont, an addiction specialist, could hold his own in any debate about drugs. He and other experts point to research showing that 9 percent of marijuana users become addicted, a figure that rises to 16 percent when use begins in teen years. In various studies, weed also is linked to lower academic performance and mental illness and other health problems.

The marijuana normalization movement bats back such findings by citing the devastating results of alcohol and tobacco dependency and abuse, for example, and the palliative effects of marijuana as medicine. And they say the disproportionately higher rate of minorities’ arrests and incarceration for pot-related offenses have caused greater social harm — which became a major selling point for decriminalization in the District.

Backed by deep-pocketed funders, the legalizers deploy lobbyists, spokesmen and researchers from well-staffed organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). They even have their own business alliance: the National Cannabis Industry Association.

“These guys are in a full-court press coming at you from every angle,” says DuPont, 78, who runs the small, Rockville-basedInstitute for Behavior and Health. He sounds exasperated. “They have a bench 1,000 people deep. . . . We’ve got Kevin Sabet.”

Sabet, 35, first testified before the Senate against drug legalization when he was 17 and now runs an anti-pot-legalization group calledSmart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). Last year he made No. 1 on Rolling Stone’s “Legalization’s Biggest Enemies” list.

“Do we want a stoned America?” asks Sabet, who has served drug czars in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. “Is that where we want to go at a time when America’s place in the world, in terms of academic and economic competitiveness, is greatly threatened? Good luck.”

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Sabet says he commits “100-plus hours a week” to raising the alarm and has help from SAM affiliates in 27 states. People who still see grass as “a harmless giggle in our basement” are ignoring the “Wall Street sharks” hoping to profit from a nationwide cannabis industry as large and powerful as the booze or tobacco businesses, he says. Sabet predicts increases in buzzed driving and health problems.

But such arguments clearly have not stopped the other side’s momentum. “Woeful Kevin” is what Allen St. Pierre, NORML’s executive director, calls Sabet.

“I feel blessed by someone like Kevin,” St. Pierre says. “Since he has come on the scene we have prevailed, prevailed, prevailed. We could use 500 Kevins.”

The reversal of fortunes in the reefer battle is rooted in politics as much as anything. NORML was founded in 1970, when the counterculture ethos was in full flower, so to speak; millions of baby boomers experimented with drugs. The Nixon administration was decidedly anti-hippie, but by the time Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency, “decriminalization looked inevitable,” DuPont recalls.

In 1977, Carter said the punishment for marijuana possession“should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself” — a message still reinforced by legalization advocates today.

But in the mid-1970s, a potent counter-movement was already stirring across the land, a phenomenon tracked by Emily Dufton, who wrote her recent doctoral thesis at George Washington University on the remarkable shifts in American attitudes on marijuana in recent decades.

In the mid-1970s, middle-class parents, alarmed at finding stashes in fake Coke cans and hash pipes under mattresses, started banding together to talk about behavioral changes they saw in their weed-toking kids. In 1977, one Atlanta woman wrote to DuPont, then at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and invited him to meet with her group. At the time, he supported decriminalization, but he came away a staunch prohibitionist, convinced that heroin was not at the center of America’s drug woes — it affected relatively few users — but marijuana, which affected vastly more families.

The parent movement, embraced by the Reagan White House, eventually garnered enough strength to entirely change the debate. In just a few years, they transformed marijuana “from a seemingly benign middle-class drug into the most dangerous drug in the United States,” as Dufton put it.

But in the 1980s came a new scourge, crack cocaine, and marijuana became significantly less frightening to people than crack, she says.

The parents’ campaign did result in a major drop in teenage marijuana use from the 1980s to the dawn of the ’90s, research shows, but the campaign was ultimately doomed.

Professional organizations like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and D.A.R.E. siphoned funds away from the amateurs. The public grew weary of nonstop, sometimes hyperbolic anti-drug messages. (See: “This is your brain on drugs.”)

Promoting a message of compassion for the sick, medical marijuana advocates led the way in the 1990s to a more accepting public view toward recreational pot. The number of pro-pot groups began to surge.

“It’s our fault,” Sabet admits, but he cites one mitigating factor. “They have money and we don’t.”

Still, other forces explain why reform has caught on now, including supportive baby boomer voters; a lingering recession that dampened government revenue, making the taxation of marijuana tempting; and an overwhelming public view that alcohol prohibition was a “great failed experiment,” St. Pierre says. In addition, the Obama administration decided not to challenge legalization in Washington and Colorado and to allow banks to do business with legal marijuana sellers.

“This is like gay marriage,” St. Pierre argues. “Twenty years ago if you voted for it you were a loser; now 20 years later, if you vote against it you’re a loser.”

In the District, the legalizers are predicting success. Sabet’s group decided against challenging the signatures gathered for the ballot initiative: “We are picking our battles,” he says.

So where does that leave concerned residents like Aaron McCormick, who has 6- and 7-year old daughters and a 14-year-old son?

Even if pot is legal, he has told his teenager, think of career consequences: If you want a good job, you’re still going to have to pass a drug test. In the Navy, where McCormick served six years, regular drug testing was part of the drill.

“I have never smoked it,” he says. “My kids know that Daddy is definitely a hard-nosed person. I don’t give any slack on this marijuana issue. None. Zero.”

So, kids, some advice: You’d better just say no.

Richard Leiby is a senior writer in Post’s Style section. His previous assignments have included Pakistan Bureau Chief, and reporter, columnist and editor in Washington. He joined The Post in 1991.

Colorado’s new “Green” marijuana business Gold Rush means a lot of money will be circulating around it’s economy.


Next Gold Rush: Legal Marijuana Feeds Entrepreneurs’ Dreams


People in Colorado’s growing marijuana industry at the Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver last month. CreditMatthew Staver for The New York Times

the glint of gold or rumors of oil in ages past, the advent of legal, recreational marijuana is beginning to reshape economies in Colorado and Washington State.

Marijuana is beckoning thousands of entrepreneurs and workers, investors and hucksters from across the country, each looking to cash in on a rapidly changing industry that offers hefty portions of both promise and peril.

At convention centers and in hotel meeting rooms, start-up companies are floating sales pitches for marijuana delivery services or apps to name-tagged investors who sip red wine and munch on hempseed snacks. This year, hundreds of people seeking jobs lined up for blocks in downtown Denver, résumés in hand, for an industry-sponsored marijuana job fair. Some have traveled far, leaving security jobs in Ohio or software jobs in Indiana to move for marijuana, hoping the industry has room for them.

“It’s the wild, wild West,” said Tom Bollich, who moved from the world of mobile apps in Silicon Valley to become the chief executive of a company based in Boulder, Colo., that builds climate systems for marijuana growers.

With marijuana now legal for medical use in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and full legalization heading to the ballot in Alaska and Oregon, the size of the noncriminal marijuana industry is expected to grow to about $2.6 billion this year from about $1.5 billion last year, according to estimates by the ArcView Group, a marijuana research and investment firm in San Francisco.

Investors in marijuana say there have been as many as 80 marijuana-related companies trading publicly, though federal securities regulators have suspended trading in five of them over the last few months and have warned that some of these new firms might be fraudulent efforts to dupe investors hunting for the next big thing.

In Colorado’s first six months of retail sales, the number of people licensed to work with the plant has grown to 11,289 this month — slightly less than the number of auto mechanics in the state — from about 6,000. (The state points out that not all those people may be actively working in the marijuana industry.) Since the first dozen stores opened in January, Colorado has issued licenses for more than 200 recreational marijuana shops.

Tourists have flocked to those stores, making up 44 percent of the customers at one Denver shop during a sample week this spring, according to the state’s first study of demand for marijuana. Tour companies and marijuana-friendly bed-and-breakfasts have sprung up to serve tourists, too.

In Washington State, where recreational sales kicked off last week, the retail industry is much smaller, with as few as eight stores open so far. But the ambitions are boundless, with more than 300 licenses under state review and an outdoor growing season — perfect for apples, wheat and grapes — that could make Washington a national powerhouse of production if legalization spreads.

Hundreds of other people have found work on the edges of the industry. They sell water systems, soil nutrients, lighting and accounting services, like the 19th-century merchants who profited by selling picks and shovels to gold miners. There are now dozens of marijuana-related mobile apps, marijuana-centric law firms and real estate agents, cannabis security experts (it is a risky, virtually all-cash trade) and marijuana-themed event promoters offering everything from luxury getaways to bus tours. Washington has a rule requiring bar-code tracking of every marijuana plant to ensure that only licensed, Washington-grown marijuana is sold in its stores. It has also created a niche for tech start-ups like Viridian Sciences, a software company aiming to help retailers prove the provenance of their product should a state inspector or customer ask.

But many have also discovered that selling marijuana, even without the specter of being arrested, carries high costs and no guarantee of success.

A heavily regulated recreational marijuana program in Washington drew more than 7,000 applications, but many of those would-be growers, processors and retailers have struggled from the start. They had to find financial capital that state inspectors would approve and lock in a legal business location. Then, they had to endure months of delays as overwhelmed state workers processed and analyzed an oversubscribed applicant list.

“I’m about fed up,” said Michael McDonald, a 57-year-old home-repair contractor, who has applied for two licenses to grow and process marijuana in Bellingham, in northwestern Washington.

Mr. McDonald said the deck was stacked in favor of richer corporate players. With banks still so leery of lending in the industry, he said, financing choices for smaller entrepreneurs like him are few.

“What’s happening is that the only people who are really going to get licenses are the ones who have somehow hidden their illegal money, or legitimized it, or it’s big business backing it, and that’s not how it was supposed to be,” Mr. McDonald said.

Aaron Varney, 38, who directs a nonprofit medical marijuanacooperative in Seattle, got a 24th-place slot in the state lottery for the 21 retail marijuana locations up for grabs in his city; three people ahead of him would have to wash out of the process for his number to come up. He wants the industry to succeed, he said, but cannot fully silence what he called the selfish voice inside that hopes to get in.

“Real close, but not quite there,” Mr. Varney said of his waiting game.

Despite marijuana’s outlaw reputation and legal status, the industry is growing largely because the Obama administration decided last year not to oppose votes in 2012 in Colorado and Washington that legalized marijuana for personal use and laid the groundwork for statewide sales. But regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission warned that the loosened laws created new horizons for fraud, as small companies with dubious assets and financial disclosures leapt into the over-the-counter trading market.

The agency’s actions this spring to suspend trading in marijuana-based companies from Colorado, California and Texas were still rippling through Weedstock, an investor conference at the Westin Denver Downtown Hotel. While some growers and sideline businesses are earning enough to even sponsor chamber-music galas, investors said that others were leaping into the market with little more than hype and shaky business plans.

“Ninety percent are either scams or aren’t going to make it,” said Alan Brochstein, a financial analyst who is carving out a niche in the cannabis market.

But many are ready to gamble on marijuana’s success. After a decade in the military and a career working in security, Sy Alli, 53, moved to Colorado to become the director of corporate security for Dixie Brands, a company that makes marijuana-infused drinks and snacks. Zach Marburger, 28, visited in January to ski and check out the early days of legal use of recreational marijuana, and decided to relocate to Denver to develop software to connect customers and retailers.

And a few months ago, a 22-year-old mobile app developer named Isaac Dietrich and a friend were smoking marijuana in a Norfolk, Va., apartment when they realized: There could be money in this. They moved to Colorado, where they are working on an app called MassRoots, which lets marijuana enthusiasts privately post photos on an online platform out of sight of their parents or co-workers. They want it to be the Instagram for marijuana users.

“We thought about relocating to Silicon Valley, but they haven’t backed a single marijuana company,” Mr. Dietrich said. “This is where everything’s happening. We didn’t want to be left out.”

Jack Healy reported from Denver, and Kirk Johnson from Seattle.

Recreational marijuana sales benefits Colorado more than medical marijuana sales.

Colorado Marijuana Report Shows Legalization May Avoid a Big Potential Problem


A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Six months into marijuana legalization, the Colorado Department of Revenue has issued a new report outlining findings about the size of the newly legal market. It turns out that the demand for marijuana far exceeds earlier estimates; according to the report, statewide demand is at a whopping 121.4 tons per year. That’s 31 percent higher than a previous Department of Revenue estimate and 89 percent higher than an oft-cited study by the Colorado Futures Center. And while the vast majority of the increase is the result of resident smokers consuming more than expected, the growth of the retail market — particularly among tourists — is a promising sign for the success of legalization.

Colorado makes substantially more money from taxes on recreational marijuana than medical marijuana. So the success of recreational legalization can be measured by the state’s ability to make loads of money from pot taxes. For advocates, Colorado (so far) appears to be a first victory and may become proof of concept. If Colorado is able to rake in a substantial amount of tax revenue, legalization advocates’ pitches to legislatures in Oregon, Massachusetts and Alaska become that much easier. And while most of the overall growth in the market size is due to residents — probably medical customers — being heavier smokers than anticipated, the report found that a substantial slice of the retail growth is due to tourism. Here’s a quote from the report (emphasis added):

Using the latest retail marijuana tax statistics from the Department of Revenue, we also found that conversions from medical to retail consumption is relatively low. Instead, retail supply of marijuana is growing, while medical marijuana is relatively constant. This may indicate that medical consumers would rather pay the medical registration fees as opposed to the higher tax rates, or that there are currently relatively few retail outlets compared to medical centers. Therefore, the retail demand is derived primarily from out-of-state visitors and from consumers who previously purchased from the Colorado black and gray markets.

Earlier this year, I looked at the pricing differences in the Colorado medical and retail markets, and why they could be a huge potential problem for revenue. This chart, from my original article, shows what I found:


Recreational pot is a lot more expensive than medical pot across the market, and in that piece, I raised the question as to whether that price gap could be trouble for the success of legalization:

The state obviously still cares about collecting taxes, and architects of the marijuana legalization effort both in Colorado and nationally have a vested interest in demonstrating that legal cannabis can be a revenue-generator for states. Since it’s considered fairly easy for a healthy person to obtain a medical marijuana card, recreational prices pushing people back toward medical in the first four months of legal pot in Colorado may not be the best thing for the movement.

As we expected, the market isn’t seeing a lot of residents who had been in the medical market switch to the recreational market. But for legalization advocates, the good news is – even though there hasn’t been a shift from the medical market to the recreational market – there has been a shift from the black market and out-of-state black markets to the recreational market, according to the new report.

The bottom line: The report’s findings suggest the appeal of the Colorado medical market may not be a huge problem for legalization, as long as those tourists and previously black-market customers stick to retail and not medical.