Don’t bogart taxes, county officials say

The Mesa County commissioners were among the first public officials in this region to prohibit retail marijuana sales within their jurisdiction under the terms of last year’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana statewide.

However, if there is revenue to be derived from legal marijuana sales, the Mesa County commissioners want a piece of the pie, even if they don’t want the sales here.

They’re not alone. Other counties that have voted to ban retail marijuana sales say they want some of the revenue that would be generated if voters approve Proposition AA on this year’s ballot. That measure would create new sales and excise taxes for retail marijuana sales. Most of the money raised would go to school construction and to state agencies assigned to regulate legal marijuana. But a portion would go to those cities and counties that approve marijuana retail stores within their boundaries.

County officials say spreading the wealth would be similar to when voters approved legalized gambling in three Colorado mountain towns, and the Legislature agreed to use some of that money for impacts in neighboring communities.

The difference, of course, is those neighboring communities didn’t have the option of approving and regulating gambling within their borders, as counties did with marijuana sales.

It’s more than a little disingenuous for counties to ban retail sales, then say, “We want some of the money,” based on the entirely untested claim they might in the future experience problems derived from residents of their counties lawfully purchasing marijuana elsewhere.


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