Nevada Makes $70 Million in Marijuana Taxes During First Year of Legal Sales

Nevada marijuana sales from June are expected to push taxable sales for the past 12 months to over $500 million, resulting in around $70 million in tax revenue, according to the Associated Press.

“I think it has been a huge success, and I don’t see how anyone could argue with that,” said Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association. The sales and taxes collected already surpass year-end projections by 25 percent.

A legal battle over distribution licenses made for a rocky start last July, but Nevada’s $195 million in sales the first six months dwarfed the totals in Washington state ($67 million) and Colorado ($114 million) for the first half-year of legal sales in those states in 2014. And so far, there’s no sign legal sales that began in California on Jan. 1 have cut into business in neighboring Nevada, regulators say.

“We are viewed by many others outside Nevada as essentially being the gold standard,” Nevada Taxation Department Director William Anderson told The Associated Press. “It’s an often-used term, but it’s appropriate here.”

State Sen. Tick Segerblom, a Las Vegas Democrat who helped lead the legalization effort, added the “biggest surprise has been that there’ve been no surprises.”

The 10 percent retail tax levied only on recreational sales goes to the state’s rainy-day fund, a total of $26.5 million through May. Money raised from the 15 percent wholesale tax applicable to medical use as well — about $24 million through May — goes to schools, but not until about one-third is used to cover local and state administrative costs.

That means about $25 million in wholesale revenue anticipated for the first full year of sales will be shared by schools in Nevada’s 17 counties based on enrollment, with $17 million likely headed to Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County and $8 million divided among the rest — perhaps $5 million for Washoe County, including Reno and Sparks.

Emily Watkins is a PhD student majoring in public policy. Emily has been a freelance editor for numerous websites, and has spent hundreds of hours volunteering to help legalize marijuana. She currently resides in Los Angeles, and can be reached at Watkins.MarijuanaHerald@Gmail.com.

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