Pot Tax Revenue Estimates Likely Hazy

Feb 24, 2014

Within the next year marijuana taxes will start arriving in Washington state coffers. But how much money can the state realistically expect to take in from legal, recreational pot sales? Washington’s revenue forecaster recently unveiled his first estimate, but the numbers may be a bit hazy.

Washington is predicted to take in $157 million in the next two year budget cycle.
Credit Scott Beale / Flickr

Weather forecasters like historic models. So do revenue forecasters. But since legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana has never been done before there are no historic models. That’s made Washington’s revenue forecaster Steve Lerch …

“… a bit reluctant, a bit uncomfortable to forecast,” Lerch says. 

But Lerch recently took the plunge. He now officially forecasts Washington can expect to take in $157 million in the next two year budget cycle. Pat Olglesby runs a think tank in North Carolina that focuses on marijuana taxes. He cautions those numbers are bound to change.

“You’ve got so many uncertainties. You’ve got what’s going to happen with the medical market? What about bootleggers?” Oglesby says. 

Even so Oglesby thinks Washington is likely underestimating. He says look at Colorado. It’s predicting $134 million in pot taxes in just one year – a figure he thinks may be a bit high.

Copyright 2014 Northwest New Network