Colorado's fledgling marijuana economy is already rolling. A recent survey by NBC showed dispensaries earned the state more than $1 million in tax revenue for January alone.
Financial experts say the take could mean more than $100 million annually for the state, crushing the previous projection of $67 million. Impressively, of the 18 weed shops surveyed, several had only been selling for four days due to license complications.
Revenue from marijuana would easily exceed Colorado's $40 million in annual alcohol sales taxes, thanks in large part to high state taxes that have hit nearly 29 percent in Denver.
Due to the young but booming industry, dozens of pot-related businesses are popping up, including the return of smoking clubs and even a marijuana-focused branding agency, whose creators say that "Nothing is certain, but … It's a risk we’re willing to take." (Via The Daily Beast)
Meanwhile Washington, the only other state legalizing cannabis, is predicting almost $400 million in revenue with only $2.7 million in costs, mostly going to changes in police training. (Via Washington Office of Financial Management)
That’s a figure that could change some minds, bond analyst Thomas Doe tells CNN Money. "$400 million of new tax revenue would be material. I've seen states borrow $400 million to help fund infrastructure projects."
And public opinion of legalization has never been higher. An October poll put support at 58 percent of Americans, up 14 percent from a 2009 poll. So who could be the next to legalize? (Via Gallup)
The Independent Voter Network puts its money on Alaska, thanks to “a libertarian, live-and-let-live hue with a history of openness to marijuana.”
Outside of Alaska and Washington, Colorado’s economic success so far could mean sweeping marijuana reform sooner rather than later. Then again, NBC includes a caveat from critics — "the costs of pot addiction."
Hard to put a number on that, but in a guest post for The Huffington Post — a substance abuse expert cites marijuana involvement in more than 455,000 emergency room visits in 2011.