Marijuana Money: What WA State gets in revenue versus Benton County
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. – Marijuana is a heavily taxed industry in the state of Washington. Business is booming, state-wide and in Benton County too.
Action News dug deeper to find out how much money our county receives from this lucrative business.
"It doesn't stay here," said Benton County Commissioner Jim Beaver.
"Local municipalities aren't seeing that money come back, so they can't really use it. A lot of it is staying with the state,” said Pablo Gonzalez, Owner and CEO of The Bake Shop right outside Prosser.
Benton County commissioners and dispensary owners alike said marijuana tax revenue doesn't stay here locally.
"I think there are folks who believe this is a revenue windfall," Beaver said.
However, it is a revenue windfall for the state. Weed taxes are 37 percent, plus the 8.6 percent sales tax. So for every $10 worth of marijuana sold, almost $5 in tax goes to the state.
In 2016 alone, the state collected $256 million in marijuana tax revenue, according 502 Data.
Of that 256 million, Benton County generated $4 million in Marijuana taxes.
Benton County was only reimbursed $46,284.40, according to the Benton County financial department. (That money is put into the current expense operating budget.)
To put these numbers in perspective, Benton County's next 2-year expenditure budget is more than $122 million.
"It's not very lucrative for local municipalities,” Gonzalez said. “I think if the state is willing to give back a little bit more and allow them to utilize those funds better, it might be more beneficial for cities to allow it, but at this point, I don’t see why."
Gonzales said he thinks local municipalities would use the money more effectively.
"I think everybody would agree that the more local the money stays the better," he said.
He said marijuana sales are only increasing. In 2017, the three dispensaries in Benton County combined are bringing in on average more than half a million dollars in marijuana tax revenue every month.
"For me I wouldn't mind paying the whole amount as long as I saw more of it coming back, but most of it is going to the state," Gonzalez said.
Local dispensaries said they'd like to see legislators revise marijuana taxes and the allocation of funds so that more marijuana revenue can benefit those here at home.