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Colorado's Billion-Dollar Legal Marijuana Industry

Mr. High Sky /

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It's been a boon to tourism in the Centennial State.

The 2015 figures are in, and the number is huge—legal marijuana sales in Colorado were $996 million in 2015, according to Colorado Department of Revenue figures, the Denver Post’s marijuana website the Cannabist reports.

Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes from marijuana sales in 2015. Of that, about $35 million will be put to school construction projects, the Cannabist reports. Since Colorado made it legal to use marijuana for recreational purposes state-wide in early 2014, taxes collected from marijuana sales have increased rapidly, and now far surpass taxes from alcohol. Legalization has also influenced tourism revenue—about half the tourists surveyed last summer in Colorado said legal marijuana was one of the reason they visited the state.

To put the 2015 overall sales figure in some sort of perspective, in 2014—in the entire US—mustard sales hit about $430 million (paywall), and Advil sales were below $500 million.

Revenues from US wine sales, on the other hand, were close to $40 billion in 2014.

Heather Timmons is an Asia Correspondent at Quartz, where this article was originally published.

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