Taxes from recreational marijuana turning heads

Feb. 21, 2014 at 1:56 PM

DENVER, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Tax revenues from recreational marijuana sales in Colorado are turning heads, even as they begin to trickle in for the first time, various observers say.

"It's well on its way to being a billion-dollar industry," Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group told the New York Times.

"We went from 110,000 medical marijuana patients to 4 billion people in the world who are 21 and up," Elliott said, referring to the size of the new customer base.

The Times reported Friday that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's recent budget proposal includes the expectation of $134 million in taxes that will be available from the nascent industry in the state, where recreational pot use has been legal since Jan. 1.

The proposal includes $99 million to be directed to substance abuse programs, law enforcement and public health, the Times said.

"Every governor and legislator in the country will be like, 'Hey, check out these numbers,'" said Washington state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, chairman of the House Finance Committee.

Hickenlooper's office estimates pot could be a $1 billion industry, with a tax rate of 25 percent on sales.

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