In a Down Economy, Will Taxing Medical Marijuana Lead to a New Green Rush?


February 13, 2012

Medical marijuana proponents have long argued that taxing pot dispensaries could provide sizable revenue to local governments, ushering in a so-called “green rush.”

Though the profits are in fact relatively small, they are growing. And in a down economy in which states are struggling to balance budgets and debating which services to cut, they’re finding that “every bit helps” The New York Times reported today.

The article offers some hard numbers that illustrate the impact: Last year the state of Colorado collected $5 million from these taxes, double the amount it took the previous year, while Oregon generated $6.7 million, which helped to pay for other health programs in the state. As the Times notes, some of these profits go toward the cost of regulating and administering the medical marijuana industry. Still, the sizable revenues are motivating some cities and states to try to increase profit levels further by raising the tax rate and increasing the number of licensed dispensaries.

But a federal crackdown on medical marijuana launched under the Obama administration and particularly fierce in California, the country’s largest marijuana market, makes the green business risky: States are unsure whether the federal government will force dispensaries to close down.

In our July film, The Pot Republic, we went inside California’s attempts to regulate its booming medical marijuana industry — and the increasing pushback states are facing from federal officials.

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Ex-MPD Officer Thomas Lane Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter Charge for Role in George Floyd’s Murder
He was one of three officers convicted in federal court and expected to face trial next month on state charges.
May 18, 2022
9 Documentaries That Provide Context on the Buffalo Shooting
As America grapples with the deadly massacre, FRONTLINE's past reporting sheds light on the current moment and the circumstances that led to it, from guns to America's history of racist killings.
May 17, 2022
War Crimes Watch: Targeting Ukraine Schools, Russia Bombs the Future
The destruction of schools is about more than toppling buildings and maiming bodies, experts told our reporting partner The Associated Press. It hinders a nation’s ability to rebound after the fighting stops, injuring entire generations.
May 17, 2022
Minneapolis Agrees to Pay $200,000 to Settle Discrimination Complaints by Two Former Police Officers
Colleen Ryan alleged she was denied promotion because she's an openly gay woman, while former Deputy Chief Art Knight alleged his demotion was retaliatory.
May 12, 2022