The state of Colorado in the US has confirmed they sold $1.3 billion in medical and recreational marijuana last year, collecting close to $200 million in tax revenue.
With around 5 million people, Colorado’s population is roughly 10 times the size of Malta, which means you could argue (and we will) that if Malta were to fully legalise weed with the same success, we could stand to rake in $130 million in revenue and some $20 million in taxes. Let’s convert that to euros for ease of reference: €122 million in revenue and €18 million in taxes. Now, to put these numbers into some perspective:
1. One year of marijuana taxes could pay for more than three years of drug reduction programmes
According to European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Malta spent €5.49 million on drug reduction activities in 2012.
2. Marijuana taxes could pay for free childcare for all
The initiative for Malta to offer all parents free childcare costs the country some €11 million, which means marijuana could pay for an initiative of this scale comfortably, and then some.
3. Weed could generate a third of the tax that the gaming sector generates
Gaming in Malta generating €700 million in 2015, of which the government collected €55 million in tax. Marijuana taxes would make up for a third of that figure.
4. You could buy (or avoid selling) 187 Maltese passports with the money generated from cannabis
If passports cost €650,000, you could buy 187 with the value of the marijuana that could be sold.
5. Legalising cannabis could generate more tax revenue than we collect on alcoholic spirits
According to Budget 2017 estimates, Malta plans to rake in €17 million in excise duties from spirits. Another €4 million is expected to be collected from beer alone.
6. Cannabis taxes could amount to a sixth of what Malta makes on cigarettes and tobacco
Malta rakes in €97 million on cigarettes and another €5.1 million in tobacco, which is basically six times what we are predicting Malta could collect from marijuana taxes.
7. The annual income from marijuana would be almost half the value being invested in the ITS/Hard Rock Hotel site
It was referred to by the Prime Minister as the biggest investment ever by a Maltese person. And still, just two and a half years of marijuana would leave the same impact on the economy as the €300 million investment.
8. You could buy 15 million cans of Cisk with the tax money alone
Imagine, all that Cisk.
To be fair, Colorado gets many more millions of tourists than Malta so the comparison is probably inaccurate. But then again, think of the number of tourists who’d visit Malta if it was a weed-friendly zone.