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  • Alexander Bencore

Cannabis Tax Dollars Not Really Getting to Kids

Today we're digging deeper into the issue of THE GAP between what's promised for cannabis tax revenues, and what's really happening.


There are some big numbers being thrown around in the cannabis world – some say it’s a $25 Billion industry in the United States alone, and many states claim to generate $1 Billion in sales every year including California, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, and Illinois.

Cannabis taxes are huge and growing (looking at you, Colorado), but as Rico Lamitte and others point out so well, these big numbers often mask a business-as-usual approach to what these taxes accomplish.

Let’s look at Nevada: The State of Nevada saw just over $1Billion in cannabis sales last year, which is going to result in $159 M to schools – all of which SOUNDS GREAT ON PAPER.

"More than $67 million was transferred from the CCB to the Distributive School Account, which funds kindergarten through 12th grade public education. Another $92 million in Retail Cannabis Excise Tax Revenue was also transferred to the DSA," according to the local Fox News affiliate, KVVU-TV.

In a related story, the City of Vista, CA near San Diego, reports $5.1 Million in tax revenues from cannabis businesses. SOUNDS GREAT ON PAPER… BUT NOT SO FAST…

On its website, the City reports:

"In April, 2021, the City Council agreed that cannabis sales tax revenues reflected in the General Fund should be capped at $4 million and any revenue in excess of that amount should be used to fund special projects."

So right off the top, the City grabbed 80% of cannabis tax money for the general fund, and only 20% is to be specifically directed. And here’s where THAT money is going:

The Special Projects include:

  • New Sheriff's deputy: $275,000;

  • TWO Park Director Rangers: $277,000;

  • Cannabis decoy and enforcement operations: $20,000;

  • Youth cannabis prevention and early intervention: $100,000;

  • Increased lighting in neighborhoods: $270,000;

  • Park restroom maintenance: $31,000;

  • Youth scholarship program: $140,000

SEE WHAT VISTA DID THERE? For all the hard work by the cannabis businesses in Vista, and the high taxes paid by customers which generated $5 million in cannabis tax revenues, only $140,000 will go toward a Youth Scholarship Program.


Back to Nevada: "Nevada PTA President Rebecca Garcia said to not let those headlines fool you. "There’s roughly 500,000 pupils in the state of Nevada, so once you divide out that $159,000,000 across 500,000 students, that’s only $318 per student. And while that is definitely helpful, it is NOT A SOLUTION when Nevada ranks anywhere from 48th and 50th in the nation for education funding," Garcia said.

Not only that, but IN NEVADA, COUNTIES THAT VOTED AGAINST HAVING CANNABIS BUSINESSES STILL GET CANNABIS MONEY. 80% of the sales occur in Clark County (where Las Vegas is, no surprise) "If we just took the marijuana money being generated and gave it to the Clark County school system, there wouldn't be a deficit," says Senator Tick Segerblom.


In my opinion, these CANNABIS NUMBERS ARE BEING USED AS A SMOKE SCREEN – and the federal conversation is MORE OF THE SAME. Our cannabis industry lobbying efforts have to be much more effective at DOING GOOD WITH CANNABIS TAXES, not just accounting tricks and a new ATM for law enforcement.


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