Marijuana sales tax question to go to Fruita voters

Fruita residents will get to vote in April whether to levy a 5 percent tax on the sale of medical marijuana.

The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance creating the tax, subject to voters signing off on it during the April 6 municipal election. Council members are expected to formally add the question to the ballot next month.

Councilman Terry Moss was the only member of the board to vote against the ordinance, saying he’s confused as to why the city would agree to allow the drug to be sold for medicinal purposes but then turn around and tax the people it’s supposed to help.

“I’m not sure why we’re asking for this,” he said.

Councilman Nick Kohls was absent from the meeting.

No one from the public offered any testimony for or against the tax.

If approved by voters, the tax on medical marijuana, products made with medical marijuana and medical marijuana paraphernalia would be tacked onto an existing 3 percent sales tax and take effect May 1. The tax wouldn’t apply to any nonmarijuana products sold at dispensaries.

City Manager Clint Kinney said one application for a dispensary that would be located on U.S. Highway 6&50 is pending before the Community Development Department.

City officials say any medical marijuana shops that open in Fruita will require monitoring by police, community development and other city departments to ensure they are abiding by city codes and state law. They say the tax would give them additional revenue needed to help pay for that enforcement and regulation.

Although state voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2000, it wasn’t until last year that the industry took off in Colorado. But with little or no federal or state oversight, counties and municipalities have been left to decide for themselves if, how and where medical marijuana should be sold.

Fruita has adopted a set of regulations that, among other things, requires dispensary owners to undergo background checks and restricts dispensary locations to certain commercial and industrial zone districts.


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