Colorado became the first American state to pass the marijuana milestone of a billion dollars in sales.
Sales tax statistics released Friday by the Colorado Department of Revenue announced sales of the drug hit 1.3 billion U.S. dollars for 2016.
Marijuana industry experts predicted by 2025 half of America’s 50 states would have legalized the drug due to a huge amount of tax revenues could be generated from it.
“The movement is just beginning,” Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of marijuana law (NORML) told Xinhua Saturday.
Across the country, Marijuana sales grew 30 percent in 2016 and were expected to reach 20.2 billion dollars by 2021 according to market research.
A total of 8 American states so far legalized or decriminalized use of the drug.
Colorado and Washington, both legalized the drug in 2012, with the Pacific Northwest state tallying 1.09 billion U.S. dollars in sales last year.
The billion-dollar club meant Washington netted 256 million U.S. dollars for the state’s coffers while Colorado got 200 million U.S. dollars in tax revenues, including a projected 50 million dollars going to public schools, officials said.
“Education needs all the help it can get – and that’s a big boost for Colorado,” said Douglas Hubsher, 57, a special needs teacher. “Other states could join soon.”
In Washington, tax revenues would go to the state’s basic health plan, to state departments for marijuana education and prevention programs, and for studies on long term marijuana use at the University of Washington.
“When Obamacare gets torched by (U.S. President) Donald Trump, states may have to pick up the slack and figure out how to pay for health care,” said David B. Richardson, a Seattle attorney and Washington Insider.
“Marijuana sales should go to health care and education, and that’s what we’re seeing here in Washington and in Colorado,” Richardson said.
Colorado’s 5.2 million people and Washington State’s 6.9 million are tiny compared to Western giant California’s, the nation’s most populous state with 38.3 million residents.
California voters passed Proposition 64 last November, and recreational consumption of the drug is scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, 2018.
“The floodgates will open soon in California,” Richardson said. Enditem
Source: Peter Mertz, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh