Calif. rakes in $270mil in cannabis tax for 2023 fourth quarter

The cannabis tax brought in over a billion dollars to the state’s coffers last year.

California’s cannabis tax brought in nearly $270 million in the fourth quarter of last year, state officials announced Tuesday. 

Overall, California has had nearly $5.74 billion in total cannabis tax revenue since January 2018. 


By the numbers: Fourth-quarter returns were reported at $268.3 million as of Feb. 16, with more outstanding returns still being processed. 

  • The revenue includes $156.5 million from the excise tax and $111.8 million from sales tax collected from cannabis businesses. 
  • Revenue for the third quarter of 2023 has also been revised to $278.3 million – $164 million to the excise tax and $114.3 million to the sales tax. 

The big picture: The fourth-quarter returns marked two consecutive periods of downward trends, although the revenue was still higher than the same time in 2022. 

  • California’s peak cannabis tax revenue in 2023 came in the second quarter at over $286 million. 
  • The fourth-quarter returns for 2022 were $249.8 million, making the 2023 fourth quarter see a 7.4 percent increase from the prior year. 

The backstory: California’s cannabis tax came into being in November 2016 when voters approved Proposition 64. 

  • The 15 percent excise tax and the cultivation tax took effect in January 2018. 
  • The cultivation tax, which brought in $501 million in revenue, was eliminated in July 2022 by tax reform legislation. 

Local issues: While the state’s cannabis tax has provided significant tax revenue, Fresno’s revenue projections have yet to be met. 

  • Fresno projected $5.38 million in cannabis tax revenue in the budget this year, but an update at the city council meeting last week showed that the actual revenue is now expected to fall short at $2.26 million. 
  • Last year was more of the same, with the $2.1 million in cannabis tax revenue not meeting the $5.3 million projection.
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