State officials estimated that legalized recreational marijuana could bring in $51 million to the state’s general fund in the 2015-17 biennium.
It’s the first time that the state has included marijuana in its revenue projections, since Initiative 502 passed in 2012, which legalized recreational marijuana, according to the Office of Financial Management.
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council discussed the estimate, and projections for the next six years at meetings broadcast on TVW Wednesday.
The forecast for the remainder of the 2013-15 biennium showed general fund revenue coming in $30 million higher than in the November forecast, according to the Office of Financial Management. The general fund revenue over this biennium is expected to be $33 billion.
The state’s general fund collections in the following biennium, 2015-17, are projected to be $35.7 billion, an increase of $82 million over the November projection and including the $51 million expected in marijuana taxes.
The rest of that increased forecast was due to slowly growing economy, said Steve Lerch, chief economist of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
Lerch told lawmakers Wednesday that council staff has been reluctant before this forecast to include marijuana tax revenues in general fund projections because of uncertainties about the retail stores, including when the the stores would launch and the potential for marijuana businesses to have problems with banks.
The projection includes an assumption that marijuana retail stores would not start until June 2015, Lerch said. Initiative 502 earmarks other revenue from marijuana, such as licensing revenue, to a dedicated marijuana fund, which pays for social and health services and research, he said.
According to OFM, the next revenue forecast is scheduled for release June 18.