Call it the mile-high state.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper made history Tuesday, signing two bills that make his state the first place in the world to fully regulate the recreational use of marijuana for adults.
Flanked by legislators and pot legalization activists at the Colorado State Capitol, Hickenlooper signed two bills that lay out the framework for marijuana retail sales, cultivation, and product manufacturing. In the November election, Colorado passed Amendment 64, a voter initiative that legalized recreational use of the drug by residents over 21.
“Certainly, this industry will create jobs,” Hickenlooper said. “Whether it’s good for the brand of our state is still up in the air. But the voters passed Amendment 64 by a clear majority. That’s why we’re going to implement it as effectively as we possibly can.”
The new regulations enact sales and excise taxes on marijuana that will pay for the construction of new public schools.
“In 2014, the new excise tax is expected to raise $24.1 million,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the Daily News. “All of that money will go toward public school construction.”
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The state expects to see law enforcement savings of $12 million next year because of the legalization.
Tvert said that the state also anticipates that it will see $12 million next year in law enforcement savings because of the legalization of marijuana.
A wholesale tax on recreational marijuana was capped at 15% until the year 2017 as a way to ensure that prices of the drug will be kept low.
“The idea is to put the underground marijuana market out of business,” Tvert said.
The proceeds from the wholesale tax will go into the state’s general fund, providing Colorado with yet another revenue windfall.
An independent analysis by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy found that after another $22.5 million in revenues from state and local sales taxes on marijuana were factored in, the state could expect a to see “$60 million in total combined savings and additional revenue for Colorado’s budget with a potential for this number to double after 2017.”
Tvert said that other state legislators are looking at Colorado’s regulatory structure as a blueprint for how to raise revenue should their own residents move to legalize marijuana.
“Colorado is demonstrating to the rest of the nation that it is possible to adopt a marijuana policy that reflects the public’s increasing support for making marijuana legal for adults,” Tvert said in an email. “Marijuana prohibition is on its way out in Colorado, and it is only a matter of time before many more states follow its lead.”