Arizona has surprised many as its fledgling legal cannabis industry is moving at a clip and may soon eclipse Colorado in sales. By year-end, the Copper State is expected to realize more than $1 billion in sales, according to officials at the Arizona Department of Revenue.
In January of 2021, recreational sale and use of cannabis officially became legalized for individuals 21 years of age and older. In just six short months, sales have tripled. The resulting flurry of consumers frequenting retail dispensaries and medical marijuana dispensaries has secured more than $75 million in tax revenue for the state between January and May of 2021.
Arizona has had a medical marijuana program in place for more than a decade, with the legislation passing for qualifying individuals in 2010. It wasn’t until last November that the state went all-in on cannabis. The decision is paying off in a big way.
If monthly sales averaging $120 million, there is a strong chance the state could see $1 billion in sales even before the year ends. Colorado, seen as the originator of legalized cannabis, reported just under $700 million in recreational and medical cannabis sales combined.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, released a report in May 2021 that found that Colorado and Washington, both states that legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, have amassed a total of $7.9 billion from recreational sales to date. That same report showed California to be the largest recreational cannabis market, with more than $1 billion in tax revenue derived from recreation sales in 2020 alone. During the same period, Washington collected $614 million and Colorado collected $362 million in recreational cannabis tax revenue.
Success stories like Arizona are good news for proponents of cannabis reform and reinforce the shifting paradigm that cannabis is not only not the danger it has been portrayed to be, but the plant is also a beneficial source of revenue for state governments and municipalities.
The surge in sales and tax revenue has improved the general atmosphere in certain regions of Arizona enough to raise property values significantly.
A new study has found that home values increase following the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Michelle Delgado of Clever Real Estate recently commented in an interview with KOB4 News New Mexico that “Something interesting that we noted was that the type of legalization actually had a huge impact. So states that legalized recreational marijuana saw much bigger jumps in home values than states that only legalized medicinal marijuana or states that didn’t legalize it at all.”
According to Delgado, Colorado home values have risen $89,377 between 2017 and 2021. Arizona’s market increased by $80,558 on average. While some may point to rising home values across the country, Texas, where recreational marijuana is not legal, home values increased $40,457 during the same four-year period. These prices are informed by the additional revenue flowing into cities throughout legalized states. These revenues fund state programs that include education and healthcare as well as bring more tourists and business opportunities. All of these improvements and benefits make states where recreational and medical cannabis is legalized more attractive.
Delgado added that “We found that if marijuana had been legal during those years, home values would have likely risen almost $53,000. This may be good for people who already own a home, but as home values increase, it’ll be something to watch, to see if this continues to make housing unaffordable for others.”
These developments come to light as Democratic lawmakers renew their push for federal cannabis legalization. The effort is led by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who introduced a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level earlier this month. Citing the legislative change as a “top priority” for the legislative session, Schumer argues, “The doom and gloom predictions haven’t materialized in any of these states. And as more and more states legalize marijuana, it’s time for our federal cannabis law to catch up.”