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California Cannabis Industry Has Provided $2.8 Billion in Tax Revenue Since 2018


The largest legal cannabis market in the world just had the best quarter on record.

California’s adult-use industry reported nearly $1.4 billion in taxable cannabis sales and $333.2 million in total program tax revenue, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). Those record figures represent a 91-day period from April, May and June.

Since the state launched its first adult-use sales in January 2018, the cannabis industry has provided a total program revenue of $2.8 billion, which includes $1.4 billion in cannabis excise tax, $347.4 million in cultivation tax and $1 billion in state sales tax during the course of the past 3 1/2 years.

California’s current cultivation tax is based on $9.65 per dry-weight ounce for cannabis flower, $2.87 per dry-weight ounce for cannabis leaves and $1.35 per ounce of fresh cannabis plants that are weighed within two hours of harvesting, according to CDTFA. Bringing in $40.4 million during the second quarter of 2021, California’s cultivation tax represented roughly 12% of the state’s total cannabis tax collected from that period.

The $2.8 billion in total program revenue since adult-use sales launched in 2018 was mostly derived from nearly $11.7 billion in taxable sales.

“CDTFA-administered programs account for more than $73 billion annually, which in turn supports local essential services such as transportation, public safety and health, libraries, schools, social services and natural resource management programs through the distribution of tax dollars going directly to local communities,” the department stated in a recent news release.

Regarding cannabis tax revenues for the second quarter of 2021, California’s 15% cannabis excise tax generated a record $172.3 million in revenue during the 91-day period, representing a 9.2% increase from the first quarter.

The second quarter sales tax revenue from cannabis businesses totaled a record $120.5 million, an 11.8% increase from the first quarter. The sales tax applies to sales of cannabis, cannabis products and other tangible personal property.

And the second quarter cultivation tax generated $40.4 million—a 3.1% increase from the first quarter of 2021 but a 6.9% decrease from its all-time high of $43.4 million generated in the third quarter of last year.

Overall, the state’s $333.2 million in total program tax revenue during the second quarter represents a 9.3% increase from the first quarter of 2021 and a 26% year-over-year increase.
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