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Fallout from the Cannabis Market Crash – Cities and towns are bracing for lower tax revenue from weed sales

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An expected drop in tax revenue from cannabis sales in cities like San Diego is causing concern among city officials, who are preparing for a significant cut in their budget. with California regulated marijuana market Faced with many challenges, including illegal delivery services, San Diego is projecting a huge revenue shortfall.

Specifically, officials projected a 23% drop in cannabis tax revenue for the current fiscal year, resulting in $19.8 million instead of the projected $25.7 million. The decline in sales is primarily due to the thriving black market, which is believed to comprise approximately 50% of the local cannabis industry.

According to Phil Rath, who serves as executive director of the United Medical Marijuana Alliance, the legal marijuana industry is currently grappling with fierce competition from its illegal counterpart. As a trade group that represents many marijuana dispensaries, Rath contends that delivery services are a constant, ongoing hurdle for the city. The San Diego Union Tribune echoes this sentiment, highlighting the difficulties local authorities face in enforcing regulations and limiting the influence of black market operators.

Moreover, declining tax revenue in San Diego points to a more significant problem prevalent in California. After nearly seven years since its legalization, the legal cannabis market has faltered, resulting in major setbacks for the industry.

According to a report by Politico in NovemberTax revenues generated from state-sanctioned marijuana markets took a hit, dropping nearly $100 million during the third quarter compared to the same period a year earlier. Licensed retailers that operate within the state lag far behind the massive underground market, which is valued at a whopping $8 billion. Despite a significant drop in tax revenue, medical and recreational marijuana sales in California were projected to increase by 2021. However, sales have been consistently declining, down from a high of over $1.5 billion in the second quarter of 2020.

Data released by California taxes and the Office of Fee Management in July, August and September showed that state residents purchased $1.27 billion worth of licensed cannabis products, resulting in $1.27 billion worth of $128 million in sales tax revenue. While that was still significant, it represented a decrease of $18 million from the previous quarter and a decrease of $52 million from the record high.

The California black market is dealing a huge blow to the legal cannabis industry.

According to a separate report by Politico during the same month, California black market It dealt a major blow to the legal cannabis industry, as unregulated sales overshadowed the legal counterpart. Although it has been six years since the vote to legalize recreational marijuana, the state has not been able to control illegal sales. The huge demand for marijuana products has caused many legal businesses to close their stores.

A combination of factors has hampered the success of the legal cannabis industry in the country’s most densely populated state, Including high taxes, Local government opposition, fierce competition from the underground market. Politico highlights that heavy taxes on cannabis products have inflated prices, making them unaffordable for many consumers. In addition, the reluctance of many local authorities to allow legal dispensaries to open further impeded the growth of the industry.

To revive the struggling legal cannabis industry, California lawmakers and officials have been exploring various measures.

Recently, Democratic state lawmakers introduced a bill that would enable licensed cannabis consumption parlors to serve food and beverages, potentially providing a much-needed boost to small cannabis businesses facing multiple challenges. According to Rep. Matt Haney, who supports the proposed bill, small cannabis companies in California are facing major struggles due to various issues, including excessive taxation, market saturationand a thriving black market.

These factors have severely affected the legal operators who adhere to the rules and regulations of the authorities. The introduction of the bill could offer a viable solution to these problems, which could help level the playing field for the licensed cannabis industry.

San Diego officials not only lowered their forecast for cannabis tax revenue for the current fiscal year, but also revised their long-term projections. Revenue from cannabis taxes is intended to fund a dispensary app and a new cannabis stock program to help people of color establish a foothold in the industry.

According to the Union TribuneOfficials acknowledge that the cannabis industry has been severely affected by the war on drugs. Previous long-term estimates for cannabis tax revenue, projected just over a year ago, were $31.5 million in fiscal year 2025, $33.3 million in fiscal year 2026, and $33.8 million in fiscal 2027. However, revised estimates were in October. November 2022 is much lower, with projected revenues of $26 million in fiscal year 2025, $28.4 million in fiscal year 2026, and $28.9 million in fiscal 2027. Officials have expressed the need for more confidence in the revised projections.

Five states saw their cannabis tax revenue decline in 2022

A new report from the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution reveals that in 2022, the five states with the longest histories of legalizing and taxing marijuana sales saw a decline in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis products.

Colorado saw the largest decline, at 13.9 percent, in tax revenue, resulting in a loss of $56.9 million in revenue. Other states that saw declines were California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, with more moderate declines ranging from 3.5 percent to 6.8 percent. The report analyzed cannabis tax policies across the country to reach its conclusions.

The study authors noted that tax revenues in Colorado and Washington have been rising steadily since 2015, and the reason for last year’s decline is unclear. However, they speculated that it might be related to the epidemic. The COVID-19 pandemic and the federal government’s response to it impacted all aspects of state and local funding in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. The authors suggest that the spike in cannabis tax revenues in 2021 may have been because consumers gained disposable income from the stimulus. Checks, reduced spending options, and a desire to exchange marijuana purchases for more public activities such as going to a bar or restaurant. The decline in cannabis tax revenues in 2022 could mark a return to more normal consumption patterns.

The report also highlighted that in some states, the selling price of marijuana fell over the same period, which affected tax revenue and indicated a healthy market. This indicates, the report added, that states that have recently taxed cannabis could see similar fluctuations in annual cannabis tax collection as the market progresses.


The decline in tax revenue from sales of cannabis products in several states, as a recent report from the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution made clear, is cause for concern. However, lawmakers and officials across the country are exploring solutions to boost the legal cannabis market, including introducing bills to allow licensed consumption lounges to serve food and beverages and implementing programs aimed at supporting small cannabis businesses and promoting equality in the industry. As the market continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how these efforts will impact the industry in the years to come.

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