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Tax on pot could generate $100M annually: Officials

Massachusetts lawmakers made their first public revenue estimations since marijuana was legalized last fall.

Retail pot sales are expected to generate more than $100 million annually, MassachGetty

Massachusetts revenue officials are expecting a pretty high return when retail marijuana sales begin next summer.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy held its inaugural hearing on Monday, and officials estimated that taxes on recreational pot could bring in more than $100 million annually, The Boston Globe reported.

It was the first time lawmakers made public approximations on the tax since 1.8 million voters passed legalization in November. They believe sales could bring in roughly $65 million the first year and around $130 million the following year, which would easily cover regulation costs.

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The tax rate on pot sales was a key discussion area of the five-hour hearing. In addition to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax, retail pot sales will be subjected to a 3.75 percent tax and a 2 percent local option tax.

So under the law, a $100 edible, such as a brownie, could have a $12 state and local tax.

Those rates could change if lawmakers like House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg have their druthers, especially considering that the seven other states that have legalized recreational pot have higher taxes.

RELATED: Are cannabis cafe's in Massachusetts' future?

A spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker, whose promised he would not raise taxes or fees when he ran for office in 2014, said he thinks “the tax rate should reflect the cost of implementing the new law as well as any secondary costs associated with expanded use of marijuana.”

With the initial retail sales date already pushed back from January 2018 to July 2018, tinkering with the new law and its ensuing tax rate is likelyjust getting started.

 
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