Nevada collects nearly $33 million in taxes from marijuana sales

Nevada is collecting tax revenue from every ounce of recreational cannabis that's sold in the state. (KRNV)

Nevada has collected a lot of tax money from the sales of marijuana. From July to November of 2017, the state has taken in $32.7 million from all pot sold.

New numbers just released show Nevada collected $5.5 million in taxes for recreational and medical marijuana in November. That's down a bit from October, which saw $5.83 million in taxes. September took in $4.7 million. August taxes totaled $4.86 million. And when recreational pot was first sold in July, the state collected $3.68 million from both recreational and medical marijuana.

The total of those five months, along with license fees, penalties and assessments -- $32.7 million is the state's total take in taxes.

"I'm a little bit surprised at the amount that we've collected," said James Wells, the director of the Nevada Budget Division.

Every time a business sells marijuana, people have to pay a 15 percent wholesale tax. Recreational users pay an additional 10 percent retail tax.

"It's been a good decent source of revenue, and we're collecting above what we thought we would," said Deonne Contine, Nevada's former executive director of Taxation.

Contine retired last week to practice law in the private sector. But while in office, she was responsible for implementing the adult-use marijuana program in Nevada, including licensing and regulating the state's marijuana business.

Contine said the marijuana money is just a drop in the bucket for the state.

"$32.7 million is a lot of money, but we as an agency collect and distribute $6 billion a year," she said.

Part of the 15 percent wholesale tax, which is estimated to be nearly $19 million for the fiscal year, will go to the state school districts. No money has been deposited yet. The first deposit is expected to be made by June of this year.

The wholesale tax money pays for the cost to run the program -- $5 million a year goes to local governments and the rest will soon be deposited into the account for the school districts.

"So the Distributive School Account is basically provided to the school districts to run their operations. So it pays for everything from the administrative costs to teacher salaries to textbooks to operating costs in the classrooms," Wells said.

That money does not pay for building improvements.

The 10 percent retail tax goes into the rainy-day fund to help the state in emergency situations, like economic downturns. Marijuana tax money added an additional $30 million to a fund that already has $200 million in it.

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