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State agency says legal marijuana could generate $26.6 million to $39.9 million in tax revenue

CONCORD -- The state's revenue agency estimates New Hampshire state government would realize a windfall of $26.6 million to $39.9 million annually from taxes on the wholesale and retail sales of marijuana.

The state Department of Revenue Administration released the figures Thursday as the House Ways and Means Committee considered the revenue implications of House Bill 492, which would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older.

If the bill becomes law, New Hampshire would join only Colorado and Washington state in legalizing the substance for recreational use. The bill received initial approval by the House last week but faces stiff opposition in the state Senate and a promised veto from Gov. Maggie Hassan.

As the Ways and Means panel considered the revenue at a public hearing before sending the bill back to the full House, DRA issued estimates on the fiscal impact of a $30 per ounce tax on wholesale sales and a 15 percent tax on retail sales, as outlined in the bill.

DRA estimated, based on a 2012 national survey, that 12 percent of the state's population, or 125,782 people, smoked an average of 3.53 ounces of marijuana that year. It estimated the "ounces per year consumed in New Hampshire" at 444,009.

It estimated that the $30 wholesale tax would generate $13.3 million.

It also estimated that at $200 an ounce retail, total sales would be $88.8 million, generating an additional $13.3 million in revenue. At $400 an ounce, DRA estimated, total sales would be $177.6 million and revenue from retail sales would be $26.6 million.

Added together, the wholesale and retail tax revenue would range from $26.6 million to $39.9 million, DRA said.

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