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5 Things to Know about Colorado marijuana revenue

By: KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
April 24, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm
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photo - FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2013 file photo, a marijuana plant grows at the River Rock marijuana growing facility in Denver. After months of uncertainty about marijuana and its tax potential, Colorado lawmakers started work April 8, 2014 deciding how to spend pot taxes. Voters have already decided to spend the first $40 million on school construction, but anything beyond that is up to lawmakers to appropriate. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)
FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2013 file photo, a marijuana plant grows at the River Rock marijuana growing facility in Denver. After months of uncertainty about marijuana and its tax potential, Colorado lawmakers started work April 8, 2014 deciding how to spend pot taxes. Voters have already decided to spend the first $40 million on school construction, but anything beyond that is up to lawmakers to appropriate. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file) 

DENVER — Some Colorado lawmakers want to use $3.5 million in recreational pot tax revenue to seek a matching Medicaid grant from the federal government, which considers pot illegal. Here are five things to know about the state's marijuana income:

— HOW IT'S GOING: Recreational pot sales began Jan. 1. Legislative economists estimate Colorado will sell nearly 2 million ounces of recreational pot next fiscal year. At an estimated $200 an ounce, Colorado would sell nearly $395 million worth.

— HOW MUCH POT COSTS: Marijuana is like alcohol, the price isn't set by the state and it fluctuates wildly based on potency and quality. Pre-rolled joints at some dispensaries sell for roughly $4. High-quality strains can fetch about $400 an ounce, an ounce being considered the equivalent to a keg of beer.

— POT TAXES: Colorado taxes recreational pot at least 17.9 percent, not counting local taxes. In Denver, it's nearly 29 percent. Since recreational sales began, the state has collected more than $7.6 million, including industry fees and medical marijuana taxes. Gov. John Hickenlooper's office estimates pot taxes and fees could produce $125 million for the fiscal year beginning in July.

— WHERE POT TAXES GO: When Colorado legalized pot in 2012, voters assigned the first $40 million from excise taxes to school construction. Sales taxes are up to state lawmakers to appropriate, and they're just starting to debate how.

— ONE OPTION: Budget writers propose spending $23 million now, including taxes and fees from the pre-existing medical marijuana industry, mostly to support efforts to prevent people under 21 from using pot. Using a $3.5 million program for drug prevention efforts focused on kids eligible for Medicaid, Colorado would then apply for a federal matching grant. The feds would have to agree.

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