SPOKANE, Wash. - The long-standing question of how much the state can make off of marijuana has been answered and it's much lower than many expected.
Voters were originally told before the election once shops started selling pot the state could make up $1.9 Billion in tax revenue over five years. But now that number is expected to be much lower.
Last year, the Washington State Liquor Control Board hired a marijuana consultant to let us know what to expect and how many people might buy legal weed. In the consultant's thorough report the amount of projected revenue dropped.
The Washington Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released new estimates this week. Instead of $1.9 Billion over five years they say Washington could rake in $586 Million over four years. That money will come from excise, B&O and sales taxes as well as fees.
Most of the money is distributed to programs like drug rehab centers, research on the drug's affect on the state and the liquor control board for regulation.
Once the earmarks are paid, it's estimated $190 Million will be available for the legislature to put into other undecided programs. That's much smaller than what was originally projected by the state.
Despite the lower revenue projects, some voters say at least the state's making money.
"I think it's a great, great thing that one, marijuana's been legalized and two, we're making revenue off of it," Jim Haynes said.
"You know, I'm sure over time numbers will change. They may go up, they may go down but it's a source of revenue for the state," Holly said.
Meanwhile, Colorado is expecting $184 Million in revenue in the first 18 months of sales. Colorado also has similar earmarks where that money will go. For example they have a separate excise tax to raise $40 Million for schools.