In this Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, photo, Cannabis City clerk Will Bibbs, left, helps a customer looking over a display case of marijuana products at the shop in Seattle. A year into the nation’s experiment with legal, taxed marijuana sales, Washington and Colorado find themselves with a cautionary tale for Oregon, Alaska or other states that might follow suit: They’re wrestling not with the federal interference many initially feared, but with competition from their own medical marijuana systems or even outright black market sales. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, photo, Cannabis City clerk Will Bibbs, left, helps a customer looking over a display case of marijuana products at the shop in Seattle. A year into the nation’s experiment with legal, taxed marijuana sales, Washington ... and Colorado find themselves with a cautionary tale for Oregon, Alaska or other states that might follow suit: They’re wrestling not with the federal interference many initially feared, but with competition from their own medical marijuana systems or even outright black market sales. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (The Associated Press)

Legal marijuana sales boost tax collections, but the drug no budget cure-all

To see the tax implications of legalizing marijuana in Colorado, there's no better place to start than an empty plot of land on a busy thoroughfare near downtown Denver.

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It is the future home of a 60,000-square-foot public recreational center that's been in the works for years.

Construction costs started going up, leaving city officials wondering whether they'd have to scale back the project. Instead, they hit on a solution — tap $3.2 million from pot taxes to keep the pool at 10 lanes, big enough to host swim meets.

The Denver rec center underscores how marijuana taxation has played throughout Colorado and Washington. The drug is bringing in tax money, but in the mix of multibillion budgets, the drug is a small boost, not a tsunami of cash.