Pot Tax Revenue Estimates Likely Hazy

By Austin Jenkins

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.

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 …

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

But Lerch recently took the plunge. He now officially forecasts Washington can expect to take in $157M 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.

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

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

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