Taxes on recreational marijuana sales could net the state between $44 million and $82 million in the next fiscal year, according to a new analysis by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
The wide range of the projection, unveiled Wednesday by revenue commissioner Christopher Harding in testimony before state legislators, reflects significant uncertainty on the part of government forecasters about how quickly the pot market will develop.
It remains unclear, for example, how many firms will win approval from the Cannabis Control Commission by July 1, 2018, when the fiscal year and recreational marijuana sales are scheduled to begin. It’s also unclear where those cannabis companies will be allowed to operate; well over 100 municipalities in Massachusetts have enacted various limits on the operations of marijuana firms that will grow, process, or sell the drug, and more are expected to vote on such measures next spring.
Harding told lawmakers that the numbers, which his department estimated by looking at the rollout of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, “should be used with caution for budgeting purposes,” given the “considerable uncertainty.”
Recreational marijuana will be subject to a total state tax of 17 percent. Municipalities may impose an additional local tax of 3 percent.
By way of comparison, the Commonwealth is projecting it will collect more than $27 billion in taxes from all sources in the next fiscal year.