Washington Collects $70 Million in Taxes During First Year of Legal Marijuana Sales

Since Washington launched its recreational marijuana market a year ago, some 160 pot shops have opened up across the state, sales have grown to more than $1.4 million a day, and the state has raked in more than $70 million in tax revenue, beating out its own forecasts.

Despite this, retailers, processors and growers have complained since the beginning of excessive federal and state tax burdens. James Lathrop, the owner of Seattle’s first pot shop, says that “I’m basically doing this for free. Nobody’s gone out of business, but I’m not driving a new truck either.”

Life might be about to get easier for those in the industry, though, as two new laws go into effect this month. One regulates and taxes medical marijuana, and another changes the current three-tier excise tax to one 37 percent tax.

The law states that the new tax is the responsibility of the customer, rather than the retailer, which means that stores won’t have to file such earnings as income on tax returns.

Of course, as Oregon’s own retail industry kicks off, retailers near Washington’s southern border may have to worry about losing customers to Portland stores. Rick Garza, director of Washington’s Liquor Control Board, says such concerns aren’t new: “This isn’t the first time people have gone to Oregon to buy something either because it’s cheaper or because they don’t apply sales tax,” he said. “We saw it for liquor, we see it for tobacco.”



Photo Credit: David Herrera

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