Putting marijuana tax revenue in perspective


The Nevada Tax Commission has agreed to refund $26.6 million to AT&T for a “mistaken” over payment of use taxes. Put in perspective, this single refund to AT&T ($26.6 million) will exceed the total amount of marijuana taxes earmarked for education for the entire 2017-18 fiscal year ($23.8 million) in Nevada.

While media accounts regularly report on bullish forecasts for marijuana industry revenues, they often misinform on the facts concerning marijuana taxes and education finance. The state’s forecast of $23.8 million for the current year is from the 15 percent wholesale tax on marijuana, the sole source of marijuana income to the state’s Distributive School Account. That amounts to less than 1 percent of the $2.9 billion annual state support for education. In reality, marijuana tax money makes no real impact on education — it fails to even “move the needle.”

In fact, all marijuana taxes in Nevada, both retail and wholesale, are unlikely to cover the full public and social costs of legalization — including regulation, enforcement, public health and safety, and substance abuse.

Jim Hartman