Pot profits ‘not the savior’ for Michigan’s budget

Marijuana in MI

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — How much green will the recreational marijuana business bring to the state of Michigan? Advocates for legalization promised big bucks in taxes, but were they just blowing smoke?

It may be years before we see the money rolling in, but 24 Hour News 8 is looking at revenue in Colorado to get an idea of what to expect. Colorado was one of the first states to vote to legalize recreational marijuana during the 2012 election. In the five years since it became legal, it has turned into a $2 billion industry there.

“There’s tens of thousands of jobs associated with it. That’s in the grow houses, that’s in the retail stores,” said Ben Markus, a reporter for Colorado Public Radio.

Markus has been covering the economic impact of recreational marijuana since the campaign to pass pot. According to his reporting, $250 million has been collected by the state in marijuana revenue this year. Empty storefronts have filled and cities that allow dispensaries are funding extras they couldn’t previously afford.

“Like rec centers and things that are luxury items that didn’t fit normally in their budget,” Markus said.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Marijuana in Michigan

Colorado levies a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana. Michigan will have a 10 percent excise tax. The Michigan Municipal League estimates marijuana will bring in $150,000 to $250,000 per year in tax revenue for the state. 

But Markus warned Michigan residents about getting their hopes too high.

“It’s not the savior that some people think it is,” he said. “It’s not going to be something that solves the budget problems in Michigan. It’s not solving the budget problems in Colorado, but it’s $250 million it didn’t have previously.”

The state budget in Colorado is $30 billion, so the millions in marijuana money is relatively small. But Markus says the revenue is greater than the price to regulate the marijuana industry.

The cost to society is still to be determined.

24 Hour News 8 is working to answer your questions about legal recreational marijuana. Send yours to ReportIt@woodtv.com.

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