Recreational Marijuana Taxes Boon For State Budget? Not So Fast

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Photo: Marijuana money (iStockphoto)
Marijuana and cash.

Colorado collected $78 million in marijuana taxes last year.

That sounds like a lot of money, right? But the Colorado Fiscal Institute says it's by no means a panacea for the state, which has an annual budget of roughly $26 billion.

Consider this graph from CFI, which shows marijuana revenue in relation to the overall budget:PHOTO: Colorado Marijuana Tax Revenue Pie Graph 2014-2015

CFI Economist Chris Stiffler joined Colorado Matters Host Ryan Warner as the state starts a new fiscal year.

Five Interesting Tidbits About Marijuana Tax Revenue

  • This year, Colorado is poised to receive around $100 million in pot tax revenue.
  • The first $40 million in tax revenue, by law, is earmarked for schools. However, no money can be used for teachers or classroom instruction.
  • It's funneled into BEST -Building Excellent Schools Today- Grants for capital improvements. Examples include fixing roofs or alleviating overcrowding.
  • And while all Colorado schools can apply for the grants, the limited supply of funds means typically rural and poorer schools benefit.
  • The remaining revenue is allocated for: health care, health education, substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, and law enforcement.
  • Spending the money on other purposes requires a change in the law.