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cannabis tax revenue surpassed $10 billion

Sales taxes collected by states with legal cannabis programs totaled $10.4 billion as of December since the adult use market launched in 2014 in Colorado and Washington State, according to a study by The Marijuana Policy Project.

A report released Thursday by the pro-industry group said the $10.4 billion figure includes more than $3 billion in sales tax reported in 2021, thus far.

“States that have legalized cannabis for adults are reaping significant economic benefits,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.

The tax revenue helps fund education, school construction, early literacy, public libraries, behavioral health, alcohol and drug treatment, veterans’ services, conservation, job training, conviction expungement expenses, and community reinvestment.

“In many instances that revenue is being distributed to much needed public services and programs, including reinvesting in communities that were devastated by the war on drugs,” O’Keefe said. “This is in stark contrast to [cannabis] prohibition, which costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year to enforce.”

Some examples include $471.9 million toward improving the public education system in Colorado and more than $100 million in California for community and non profit groups that help people impacted by drug laws.

In Illinois, cannabis tax revenue has outpaced revenue from liquor taxes. According to data from the state, adult use cannabis generated about $193 million in tax revenue from July through the end of November, compared to about $141.3 million over the same period for liquor sales taxes, which include levies on beer, wine and spirits.

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