Jordan Greentree - Flickr Creative Commons

Cannabis Is Making Colorado So Rich The State May Literally Give Money Back To Residents

Jordan Greentree - Flickr Creative Commons


by April M. Short

on January 30, 2015

Colorado is making so much money with cannabis sales that they literally have to give some of it back to residents. So proclaimed a recent AP story by Kristen Wyatt on the booming cannabis industry in the Rocky Mountain state.

The voter-approved law that made cannabis legal in the state was designed to put tax revenues towards schools and other state programs, but an existing state law may send some of the money directly back to residents. As Wyatt describes it in her piece, the law is causing “quite a headache for lawmakers.”

Colorado’s state constitution sets a limit on how much tax money the state can take in before it has to give some back to the residents. In 1992, Colorado’s voters approved the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, a constitutional amendment mandating that all new taxes appear before voters. It states that the state of Colorado must pay back taxpayers “when the state collects more than what’s permitted by a formula based on inflation and population growth. Over the years, Colorado has issued refunds six times, totaling more than $3.3 billion,” Wyatt reports.

“That means Coloradans may each get their own cut of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes collected in the first year of legal weed. It’s a situation so bizarre that it’s gotten Republicans and Democrats, for once, to agree on a tax issue,” Wyatt writes. Because there is so much tax revenue, and tax collections in Colorado are rapidly increasing,  the governor’s budget writers predict roughly $30.5 million will go back to individual residents (about $7.63 per adult in Colorado.)

Both political parties agree there’s “no good reason” to put cannabis dollars back into voter’s pockets, and lawmakers are scrambling to figure out how to avoid it, Wyatt writes. That would most likely require asking residents to vote themselves out of the extra cash, by voting to exempt cannabis taxes from the refund requirement.

Lawmakers will have to figure out if the refund money would go to all taxpayers, or just people who purchased cannabis. In the past, refunds have been paid through income tax returns, as Wyatt notes, “but Colorado also has reduced motor vehicle fees or even reduced sales taxes on trucks… Lawmakers seem confident that the refund mechanism won’t matter because voters would approve pot taxes a third time if asked.”

  • Gale Kerr

    I smoked marijuana for years, and never felt I needed it!
    Gale Kerr

  • Josh Swanson

    This is just a mind game. Why not say that the cannabis tax money has already been spent, and it is another revenue stream that is being refunded? Sounds like politicians are just whining in order to skirt the law.

  • Firebird7478

    Lawmakers: Smoke a joint. That will make the headache go away.

  • sukTHEfac

    “We’ll give you money back if you spend too much on us…except for those products that make you spend too much on us.”

    What the hell kind of rule is that? What the hell does it matter to them where it’s coming from? So they want to help us only when it doesn’t affect them.

  • Ron

    Lower the taxes on pot equal to the overpayment.

  • Mark Meyers

    Maybe somebody can help the retailers persecuted by the IRS; being taxed for selling ‘illegal goods’.

  • Chels

    Put more money into education! I don’t think tax payers would object to that!

  • Chels

    I agree! Lower the taxes on Marijuana. It’s not rocket science!

  • Gina Green

    Use the money to buy seeds for farmers who grow Hemp. Help BOTH sides of the Cannabis Industry.

  • Cannawitch

    such a lovely cannabis picture…. <3 i was happy to have her in my garden

  • slimelaws

    I’m in New Mexico, and I sure wish we had problems this horrible to contemplate!

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  • Chasé Erwin

    April Short, can you please cite your sources?

  • Kathryn Champlin-Webb

    Because that is highly illegal.

  • Josh Swanson

    Really? It is a law that the cannabis revenue needs to be spent last, and refunded first? Are you a lawyer?

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  • resetme

    The source (the AP story) is carefully cited throughout the piece.

  • Nathan Bright

    It’s not that it’s spent last, cannabis taxes are just responsible for the overflow in tax money last year.

  • Your1Friend

    Of course, Colorado’s neighboring states (perhaps ruled by drug companies) are so very fearful of Mary Jane.

    Better should they be fearful of all those truly horrible meth labs within their own borders.

  • Your1Friend

    Oscar Wilde would love you!

  • keith stammers

    Another case of politicians thinking it’s their money, when it belongs to the tax payers all along.

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