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Colorado expects to pocket $98 million in marijuana taxes

Marijuana rolled and looseSupporters of legal recreational marijuana always said it would be a boon to Colorado's coffers. They weren't kidding.

A budget proposal released this week by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper reveals that the state expects taxes on marijuana next fiscal year to raise around $98 million. That's $28 million more than the original tax collection projection presented to voters when they approved legal weed.

As part of the legalization of marijuana, Rocky Mountain State voters agreed to two taxes on the plant, a 15 percent tax on wholesale transactions and another 10 percent tax on retail sales. Local pot taxes also will apply in each Colorado jurisdiction.

The excise tax on wholesale sales will go toward school construction. The state and local sales tax are designated for marijuana related education programs and similar projects.

That means the new pot tax money won't necessarily boost Colorado's overall budget. Hickenlooper has proposed using it to pay for, in part, projects such as youth marijuana use prevention ($45.5 million), substance abuse treatment ($40.4 million) and public health ($12.4 million).


state's slower approach: Meanwhile, in the other state where recreational marijuana was approved by voters in 2012, the sales and taxation of the herb are on a slower track.

Washington State's marijuana sales don't start until this summer. The Evergreen State also has a more complicated regulatory structure, more closely aligned to the state's rules on alcoholic beverage sales.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC's Chuck Todd today that his state is moving at an "appropriately deliberative speed" when it comes to selling and taxing pot there.

Economic forecasters in Olympia are projecting that when Washington's legal recreational marijuana market opens, it will bring nearly $190 million to the state treasury over four years starting in mid-2015.

You can be sure that lawmakers and treasury officials nationwide are watching what pot does to the bottom lines in Colorado and Washington.

Here in Texas, Republican Gov. Rick Perry has indicated that decriminalization of pot is worth consideration. But the Lone Star State, even with Willie Nelson's revered presence, is still a ways off from making recreational marijuana available.

Instead, weed watchers say keep your eyes on New York, Tennessee, Florida, Arizona, Kentucky and the District of Columbia as the places most likely to follow Colorado's and Washington's examples.

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