Nevada’s cannabis industry is still in its infancy but in just six months the cannabis market has already raked in more than $30 million in tax revenue for the state. During this time, retailers in the state have sold more than $195 million in cannabis.
The state charges a 15% tax on wholesale cannabis and a 10% tax on retail sales and has seen its cannabis sales soar past Colorado’s during the first months of its legal market. Cannabis analytics firm New Frontier projects Nevada’s state-legal cannabis market to be worth $622 million by 2020. With nearly 85% of Nevada being federally owned, much of the market’s success can be attributed to the tourist-friendly city of Las Vegas with its culture of fun and excess.
While there has been some political wrangling over how the money gets distributed, the state is sending a good chunk of it towards education. Other cannabis-legal states have done the same. In Colorado, wholesale pot taxes are set aside for a public-school fund, in addition to paying for regulatory oversight, youth drug prevention, and substance abuse treatment. Just the thought of that much tax revenue has caused some cash-strapped states to consider legalizing cannabis. But, according to Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s first marijuana czar, potential tax revenue shouldn’t factor into the legalization discussion: saying, “At the end of the day, the debate shouldn’t be about tax revenue. ‘Should we lock up fewer people for marijuana?’ vs. ‘Is this going to create more of a burden on public safety?’—that’s where the debate should be.”