City Pages: Legal Marijuana Could Bring in $46 Million Annually for Minnesota, Study Says

Legal Marijuana Could Bring in $46 Million Annually for Minnesota, Study Says
By Aaron Rupar (City Pages) Tue., Sep. 23 2014

Marijuana sales would bring in roughly $45,950,063 in tax revenue annually for the state of Minnesota if pot were legalized, according to a study put together by NerdWallet.

NerdWallet's methodology is rather impressive. Researcher Divya Raghavan used data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to estimate how many people over the age of 25 smoke pot in each state, then used that number to divvy up the $14 billion nationwide marijuana market and determine how much stoners are likely to spend in each one. The total tax dollar figure for each state assumes a 15 percent excise tax for marijuana purchases, which is the going rate currently in Colorado.

Lending more credence to her approach, Raghavan's methodology indicates Colorado should take in about $78 million in marijuana sales taxes during the first year of legal pot. That number isn't far off from the $70 million state officials expect to collect.
Raghavan acknowledges there are a variety of confounding factors her methodology doesn't account for, such as public dollars that might need to be spent on treatment programs if people enjoy getting high more than they should. But on the other side of the coin, she estimates $7.7 billion could be saved nationwide each year on marijuana-related law enforcement costs if greens were legalized.

Her methodology also doesn't account for increased demand that could be a consequence of legalization.

"If marijuana becomes legal for wider recreational use the market could increase, our estimate [regarding the number of marijuana users] could be low," Raghavan tells us.

To put the tax revenue Minnesota stands to gain from legalization in perspective, consider that the state is on the hook for about $25 million of the St. Paul Saints' new $54 million Lowertown ballpark. In other words, pot taxes could pay for almost two of the damn things each year.

Then again, is $46 million annually really worth it considering we're talking about legalizing a substance that some of our legislators believe "rips families apart"? (*sarcasm alert*)

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.

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