Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where will marijuana tax revenue go?

Once marijuana is sold in stores, revenue from sales will be directed to several areas.

Tier 1: Funds collected through marijuana excise taxes, license fees, penalties, and forfeitures will be distributed every three months as follows:
  • $1,250,000 to the Liquor Control Board to administer the marijuana system.
  • $125,000 to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to administer the Healthy Youth Survey, analyze data, and produce reports.
  • $50,000 to the Washington Institute for Public Policy to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and produce four reports from September 2015 to September 2032.
  • $5,000 to the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute to develop and maintain web-based public education materials with scientifically accurate information about the health and safety risks of marijuana.  
Tier 2: Of the dollars that remain, the following will receive funding:
  • 50% to the Basic Health Plan.
  • 19.07% to the General Fund.
  • 15% to DSHS to implement substance use prevention strategies among middle and  high school students. 
  • 10% to the Department of Health to implement a marijuana education and public health programs.
  • 5% to community health centers for primary health and dental care services, migrant health services, and maternity health care services.
  • 0.06% to the University of Washington and 0.04% to Washington State University for marijuana research.
  • 0.03% to the Building Bridges programs.  
Any of the above can be changed by lawmakers starting next legislative session.  With lawmakers looking to fill budget shortfalls, especially education funding shortfalls, earmarks for prevention needs to be guarded.

Even if the earmarks remain untouched, it is unclear how much revenue will actually be generated by the new marijuana market.  The Liquor Control Board does not expect that all marijuana consumers will use the new system at first, limiting the amount of revenue generated in the short run.  According to researchers, 24% of the current market is made up of people under the age of 21 who will never use the legal "recreational" market. Some predict that a minority of current adult marijuana users will ever use the new market.

Right now, predictions are all that we have to go on.  It may be a few years before we know how much money communities will receive to fully implement prevention strategies.

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