News Column

Colorado Voters Approve Pot Taxes

November 6, 2013

By Joe Rubino, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

Colorado voters approved two taxes on recreational marijuana.
Colorado voters approved two taxes on recreational marijuana.

Last year, Colorado voters made the state one of two in the union to legalize recreational marijuana sales. Local voters this year heavily favor taxing those pot sales at both the state and local level, according to election returns Tuesday night.

Boulder voters considered a pair of recreational pot tax measures this election: the city's Issue 2A and the statewide Proposition AA.

Results reported by Boulder County at 10:43 p.m. showed 67.4 percent of city voters supported measure 2A, while 32.6 percent opposed it. Those numbers came after 21,639 votes had been counted.

Boulder County voters supported Proposition AA by similar margins, with an update filed by the county elections division at 11:36 p.m. showing the yes votes ahead 71.25 percent to 28.75 percent with 75,324 ballots counted.

Statewide, Proposition AA passed with about 65 percent of voters approving.

"It is rare for an industry to lead and fund a campaign to tax itself, but (the Medical Marijuana Industry Group) is comprised of business owners who understand that Proposition AA is a reasonable and responsible way forward," Michael Elliott, executive director of the group, said in a statement. "Colorado's medical marijuana program has improved public safety, and Proposition AA will help continue this progress."

Shawn Coleman, a lobbyist for the marijuana industry who lives in Boulder, characterized Tuesday's votes as positive steps for municipalities and consumers.

"It's definitely a win. It's going to make sure that every community has the resources to do this and to do it right," Coleman said. "Particularly in communities like Boulder, where they have their additional local tax, they are going to have resources above and beyond what it costs for regulation and can actually spend on things they want for their communities."

Marijuana tax measures in Denver and Littleton also were passing by healthy margins Tuesday night, as were a 3.5 percent sales tax proposed in Pueblo County and similar measures in the towns of Carbondale and Fraser.

"I think we played hard, fought the good fight and the 'yes' campaign is to be congratulated, if the present trend continues," Rob Corry, the leader of the campaign against Proposition AA, said Tuesday night.

In Boulder, Question 2A asked voters to support a 5 percent excise tax on wholesale recreational pot at the point of transfer from grow operations in Boulder. It would also impose a 3.5 percent sales and use tax on recreational marijuana in the city. Both taxes could be increased to 10 percent after 2014 under the measure.

A portion of the money collected under the two taxes would be dedicated to drug education and treatment programs and the rest would go to the city's general fund. A portion of it also will go to administration costs related to the retail marijuana industry that are not covered by license and application fees, according to a city news release.

"The passage of the marijuana tax will ensure the city can carefully and responsibly respond to Amendment 64 and how it will be administered in Boulder. We are very appreciative of the voters' support and assistance," City Manager Jane Brautigam said in the release.

Proposition AA asked voters across Colorado to impose a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale recreational marijuana transfers as well as a 10 percent statewide tax on retail sales, in addition to an existing 2.9 percent sales tax.

The excise money collected through that proposition would be dedicated to school construction, as mandated under state law.

Original headline: Boulder, state marijuana tax measures pass by wide margins

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Source: (c)2013 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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