Push on to pass marijuana sales tax

The same people who got a ballot measure passed last year to legalize the recreational use of marijuana are now pushing to tax it.

The Committee for Responsible Regulation, which spun off from the folks who pushed for last year’s historic ballot measure Amendment 64, officially launched its campaign to get Proposition AA passed.

The measure, which was placed on this year’s ballot by the Colorado Legislature, would impose sales and excise taxes on the sale of marijuana.

The measure calls for an excise tax of up to 15 percent on the average wholesale price of retail marijuana, and a sales tax of up to 10 percent on sales to consumers in the retail shops called for in Amendment 64, which legalized the weed.

Statewide, those taxes are expected to raise as much as $67 million a year, about half of which is required to go toward school construction.

State lawmakers who put the measure onto this year’s ballot feared that proponents of the amendment wouldn’t push to tax retail marijuana. They promised to do so, however, when legislators considered placing moratoriums on retail marijuana stores if voters reject the tax increases.

If voters reject the proposition, the state will have to find some other way to come up with the estimated $922,000 it needs to regulate marijuana like alcohol, as the amendment requires.

This week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it won’t interfere with state laws that legalize marijuana, either for medical or recreational use. To date, only Colorado and Washington have done so for recreational use.

“Federal officials have given the people of Colorado the opportunity to demonstrate that they can responsibly regulate the production and sale of marijuana,” said Brian Vicente, a lead architect of the amendment and chair of the Committee for Responsible Regulation. “This is a historic opportunity and we must, as a community, embrace the challenge. The first step in doing so is passing Proposition AA, which will ensure that we have the necessary resources to enforce the regulations governing the system.”

Like medical marijuana, the amendment allows local governments to opt out of allowing retail shops, and several in the state have already done so, including many in the Grand Valley.

The committee has created a campaign account with the Secretary of State’s Office, but will have only about $10,000 to spend. All of that money came from the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, according to records.


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