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It's been 5 years since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado; Here's where the tax money stands

Posted at 2:43 PM, Dec 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-31 18:37:17-05

DENVER -- In just a few days, Denver will hit the five-year mark for the country's first commercial cannabis market. Jan. 1 is the anniversary of legal and recreational marijuana in Colorado. As Denver approaches the milestone, the city shared the following statistics looking back over the years:

  • Recreational marijuana sales in Denver 2014-2017: $1.038 billion
  • Recreational marijuana sales in Denver Jan.-Oct. 2018: $327 million
  • Total combined recreational and medical marijuana sales in Denver 2014-Oct. 2018: $2.28 billion
  • Recreational and medical marijuana revenue for Denver combining sales tax, state share back, licensing fees and Denver’s special tax on recreational marijuana 2014-Oct. 2018: $173.1 million
  • Tax revenue budgeted for key marijuana management elements of regulation, enforcement and education in Denver 2014-2018: $36.6 million
  • There are currently 216 locations where medical and/or recreational marijuana can be purchased in Denver.

Education: Denver dedicated $12.8 million toward education between 2014 and 2018. This includes:

  • Funding for 8 different youth diversion programs
  • Denver Public Schools training programs in 15 different schools consisting of substance prevention programs
  • Denver’s High Costs youth education and prevention campaign featuring the first marijuana game show and a card educational game to give youth the facts to make educated decisions and have accurate peer-to-peer conversations

Notable budgeted investments from marijuana tax dollars in 2018:

  • $5 million from marijuana revenue for deferred capital maintenance
  • $4 million from marijuana revenue to fix aging parks and recreation centers citywide
  • An estimated $8 million per year to support the doubling of Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund

Milestones for marijuana in Denver include:

2012: Colorado voters approve Amendment 64, decriminalizing adult possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and establishing a regulated market and licensed commercial marijuana distribution system.
2014: Retail sales of cannabis begin in Denver. Office of Marijuana Policy is established.
2015: Denver hosts the world’s first-ever Marijuana Management Symposium to serve as a valuable resource for other cities attempting to prepare for the administrative, legal, safety and business implications of marijuana legalization.
2017: The Department of Public Health and Environment releases its first Cannabis Environmental Best Management Practices Guide, providing cannabis cultivators with environmental standards related to energy and water use reduction, waste minimization and pest control.
2018: Mayor Hancock and other officials from cities in states with legalization form first-of-its-kind government-led coalition to establish a national framework to proactively prepare governments for implementation of legalized marijuana.
2018: Mayor Hancock announces a citywide effort to expunge marijuana convictions for conduct that is now legal.