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Wash. Marijuana Tax Collections Starting To Roll In, Millions More Expected

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
This July 1, 2014, photo shows packets of a variety of recreational marijuana named "Space Needle" during packaging operations at Sea of Green Farms in Seattle.

In a manner of speaking, millions of dollars of "drug money" are starting to flow into Washington state coffers.

The state's chief economic forecaster updated budget writers Thursday on how much tax money they can expect from recreational marijuana now that the first state licensed stores have opened.

The refined forecast calls for the first year of legal pot sales to generate about $25 million in fees and taxes. The Washington governor's budget director, David Schumacher, put that into context.

"In the face of a budget problem approaching two or three billion dollars, it's not very much money,” he said. “But you know, any money is helpful."

The rollout of legal recreational marijuana sales has been somewhat rocky in Washington. Many permitted stores are late in opening and pot supplies limited.

The state revenue forecast includes much higher cannabis collections in the next budget cycle — around $207 million between next year and 2017.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.