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Executive Summary

State policy toward cannabis is evolving swiftly. Although considerably of the debate about legalization has rightly focused on possible well being and criminal justice impacts, legalization also has income implications for state and nearby governments that select to regulate and tax cannabis sales.

For decades, analysts interested in the tax income possible of legalizing cannabis had to use unreliable survey information and speculation concerning how a legal market place may operate. But this is altering. This month marks the 5-year anniversary of the initial legal, taxable sale of recreational cannabis in modern day U.S. history. In January 2014, recreational cannabis establishments in Colorado opened their doors to the public, followed quickly thereafter by enterprises in Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, California, and most lately Massachusetts. These states’ experiences with a tax that did not exist just a couple of years ago are delivering invaluable details to lawmakers across the nation as they look at legalizing and taxing recreational cannabis sales.

This report describes the several alternatives for structuring state and nearby taxes on cannabis and identifies approaches at present in use. It also undertakes an in-depth exploration of state cannabis tax income functionality and provides a glimpse into what may well lie ahead for these taxes.

Important Findings:

  • State and nearby excise tax collections on retail cannabis sales surpassed $1 billion for the initial time in 2018. This marks a 57 % boost more than 2017 levels, driven partly by the commence of legal retail sales in California and partly by fast development in cannabis tax revenues in 5 other states reporting income information: Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State.
  • In states permitting taxable sales of recreational cannabis, annual cannabis excise tax revenues ($1.04 billion) currently rival total excise tax revenues collected from all types of alcohol ($1.16 billion) which includes beer, wine, and liquor. In Colorado and Nevada, cannabis excise taxes raise far more income than alcohol excise taxes, and the very same is projected to take place in California by 2020. Notably, all six states reporting cannabis income information raised far more from excise taxes on cannabis than from sales of beer and wine, and the total quantity of cannabis excise tax income reported across these states ($1.04 billion) far more than tripled the quantity of income raised from excise taxes on beer and wine ($304 million) in 2018.
  • Common sales taxes on cannabis are also raising substantial revenues. In 2018, common sales taxes on cannabis generated a combined total of far more than $300 million in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington. Alaska and Oregon do not levy statewide common sales taxes and Massachusetts is not however reporting information.
  • Although cannabis tax revenues are meaningful, and expanding swiftly, they nevertheless represent much less than 1 % of total state and nearby tax collections in every of the six states reporting information. Cannabis taxes are a potentially significant supply of income for states and localities, but they will not be a transformative one particular.
  • Cannabis tax income is expanding swiftly and has tended to develop quickest in the initial couple of years following legalization as legal enterprises expand their operations to meet customer demand. Across states reporting various years of income collection information, annual income development has averaged 158 % amongst years one particular and two just before slowing to 55 % development, 29 % development, and 17 % development in every subsequent year.
  • The value of cannabis is falling, and this will pose a key challenge to cannabis tax income collections in a lot of states. In Colorado, for instance, typical wholesale cannabis rates are down 61 % from their 2015 peak. Most states with legal sales underway base their tax systems on the value of cannabis, which means that value cuts leave these states vulnerable to reductions in income. So far, the quantity of cannabis getting sold on the legal market place has grown immediately adequate to avert a value-induced income decline. But when consumption starts to stabilize, states that have linked their tax systems to the falling value of cannabis will probably be disappointed by the income yield of these taxes.
  • Nationwide legalization and taxation of recreational cannabis could create roughly $11.9 billion in state and nearby excise and sales tax income every year. This assumes taxation levels comparable to these that at present exist in Washington State. Income estimates for all 50 states are supplied in Appendix B of this report.

Policy Suggestions:

  • States must apply their cannabis excise taxes primarily based wholly, or partly, on the weight of the cannabis getting sold. Taxing the solution primarily based exclusively on its value poses a key challenge to the lengthy-run sustainability of state and nearby cannabis tax revenues due to the fact rates have been shown to fall considerably following legalization. In the lengthy-run, states are probably to see more rapidly income development, and much less volatility, from a tax primarily based on weight rather than value.
  • Weight-primarily based tax prices applied to cannabis must be indexed to develop alongside the price of inflation every year. This will avert erosion in the genuine worth of these taxes more than time.
  • States must phase-in their cannabis taxes more than time, rather than locking in a permanently low price of tax. Low tax prices can aid legal enterprises value cannabis at levels far more competitive with the illicit market place through the early stages of legalization when legal rates have a tendency to be highest. But as rates fall and buyers come to be accustomed to purchasing in the legal market place, low tax prices will no longer be necessary to discourage purchasing in the illicit market place.
  • Earmarking cannabis revenues to certain public solutions must be accomplished sparingly and must be restricted to causes with a direct relation to cannabis such as the regulation of the market place and the implementation or expansion of substance abuse therapy applications. Arbitrary constraints on how particular revenues need to be spent can make it challenging for lawmakers to craft budgets that direct public revenues to the locations exactly where they are necessary most.

Complete REPORT

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Supply: https://itep.org/taxing- cannabis/