Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed marijuana legalization, is bullish about the revenue the legal cannabis industry will bring in for the state, according to a new budget proposal Hickenlooper submitted Wednesday.
In the proposal, Hickenlooper's budget office says it expects the recreational and medical marijuana industries will pump nearly $134 million in tax and fee revenue into state coffers in the fiscal year beginning in July. Extrapolating from those figures, the proposal estimates sales in all marijuana stores to approach $1 billion for that fiscal year. Recreational pot shop sales are estimated to account for more than $600 million of that — a more than 50 percent increase over a previous projection.
However, the analysis also hedges its predictions.
"It is important to note that these amounts are estimates based on a number of assumptions of the new industry," the proposal states. "We anticipate that these projections will change monthly as more data is collected and actual revenue could fall short of these projections."
Still, the tallies are the first state estimates to be released since recreational marijuana sales began in stores Jan. 1. And they are significantly higher than previous projections. The most comparable prior projection — a fiscal analysis attached to the bill last year that placed special marijuana taxes on the ballot — expected recreational marijuana stores to do about $395 million in sales in the fiscal year beginning in July.
In an e-mail, Hickenlooper's budget director, Henry Sobanet, said the state now has better figures on the number of marijuana stores open for recreational sales and other factors.