The U.S. Census Bureau has released its first data product focused on cannabis, or, more specifically, on cannabis tax revenue.
Last week, the Bureau quietly released “Cannabis Excise Sales Tax Collections” as one of its “experimental data products.” These data products use “new data sources or methodologies that benefit data users in the absence of other relevant products,” according to the Bureau’s site, and are “one important path towards the creation of new, regularly occurring statistical products.” Other experimental products include, for example, “veteran employment outcomes” and “community resilience estimates for heat.”
That the federal agency is taking steps to centralize and publish economic data on what is happening at the state level is significant. It is also in line with a shift in recent years among federal agencies toward such sensemaking despite federal prohibition, as Cannabis Wire has reported, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The cannabis data are organized by state and quarter, starting in the third quarter of 2021, which is shortly after the Bureau decided to embark upon this effort. It’s worth noting that the data only references excise taxes, while states impose different types of taxes on cannabis, such as a cultivation tax. There is also no breakdown by medical vs adult use programs, as some states tax medical cannabis. Further, some state-level data are missing.
Nonetheless, looking at excise tax collection since 2021, California is by far at the top, the data show. Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Oregon follow next.
The Bureau’s data collection efforts around cannabis are expanding. In August, the Bureau announced that the Economic Census included cannabis this year, along with “cryptocurrency” and “electric vehicles,” in “keeping pace with modern times.”
“While there are no specific questions about cannabis in the 2022 Economic Census, options to select cannabis as a primary business activity are available to retail and wholesale establishments,” the Bureau noted in the announcement.