Wake-Up Call: Tax marks the pot in December tomorrow

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On December 1, the City of Denver will start collecting city sales tax from every medical marijuana dispensary in the city. "Tax revenue agents will be meeting with all dispensaries, giving them the information," says Denver City Attorney David Fine.

Not that the city has a list of all the dispensaries. But Fine is confident the city will find them -- or that the dispensaries will simply find their way to the City Treasurer, and cough up the 3.6 percent tax. "That's the easy part," Fine says.

Things get harder from there. "The state legislation is going to be the important part," Fine says. "That's going to be fascinating."

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has already determined that the state can collect its 2.9 percent sales tax on the sale of medical marijuana. But that's just the start of the state issues. The Colorado Board of Health still needs to decide if it's going to redefine the "primary caregiver" role, although it's postponed a planned December 16 meeting at which it was originally slated to do that. And state senator Chris Romer continues to work on proposed legislation that he'll introduce next session, which will not only call for regulations on dispensaries, but also license growers supplying dispensaries.

In the meantime, Denver won't stop with collecting taxes. On Wednesday, December 2, City Councilman Charlie Brown will be at the council's Safety Committee meeting, unveiling his proposal for regulating dispensaries in Denver. "I'm no alarmist," Brown says, referring to the alarm that went off at the November 18 meeting, where he first discussed the idea of new rules regarding dispensaries. "We're offering them a license to operate in our city. They've got to worthy of the public trust, and they have to live up to that."

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