Amendment 64 sales tax proposal at 10 percent, but Smart Colorado wants it higher

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Update: Yesterday, we shared a draft proposal that would repeal Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of marijuana, if voters don't approve a 15 percent sales tax during a November election. Also included was an opinion by attorney Ed Ramey that such a measure would be unconstitutional; see our previous coverage below. We've now heard back from a rep with a group that sees value in such an approach even as a modified tax proposal is moving forward. Details below.

As we've reported, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, shorthanded as TABOR, requires a vote to approve tax increases. Hence, House Bill 13-1318, the original version of which can be seen below, was designed to set rates to be considered in this November's election. An excise tax of 15 percent was envisioned in A64's language, but a sales tax of up to 15 percent not sketched out in the amendment has also been pushed.

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Photo by Sam Levin
Mason Tvert at a press event earlier this year.
Amendment 64 proponent Mason Tvert sees the 15 percent sales tax as too high. He supports a 10 percent tax, which he believes would cover enforcement costs with plenty of room to spare. Moreover, in an interview last week, he pointed to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted on April 15 and 16, which "found that 77 percent of voters would support a 10 percent special sales tax and only 18 percent would oppose one."

Given that, Tvert said that "If legislators are concerned about whether a 15 percent tax would pass, they should consider reducing it to 10 percent instead of embracing the nuclear option."

That's what wound up happening yesterday. As reported by the Denver Post, the version of the bill that will face a final vote in the House before continuing to the Senate sports a 15 percent excise tax and a 10 percent sales tax. The latter number was supported by Republicans, who feared that if rates were too high, voters might reject the tax in November, putting the state on the hook for enforcement without new revenues to pay for it.

Still up in the air is the prospect of A64 repeal language should the taxes be voted down. Attorney Ed Ramey believes such a tactic is unconstitutional, as outlined below, but Smart Colorado spokesman Eric Anderson says his organization sees value in the concept. He also insists that Smart Colorado supports a 15 percent tax, despite Tvert's claim to the contrary. Here's how Anderson put it in a statement supplied to Westword just prior to the final vote yesterday:

As we've stressed before, we're not taking the lead on the accountability amendment proposed last week but understand that its legislative proponents are confident in its constitutionality.

We've stated our support of House Bill 1318's tax structure and the inclusion of the same numbers in the potential two-part accountability amendment, which we support. We applaud the bipartisan leadership of legislators who are proposing this accountability amendment to ensure that Coloradans don't subsidize the cost of regulating recreational marijuana.

These measures would be consistent with the recommendations of the legislature's Joint Select Committee on the Implementation of Amendment 64: a 15 percent excise tax on the wholesale value of commercial marijuana, a 15 percent retail sales tax, and an extension of the state's existing 2.9 percent general sales tax to sales of marijuana. Those levels come closest to creating the necessary tax structure although, as the new report from Colorado State University's Colorado Futures Center notes, even then "marijuana tax revenues may not cover the incremental state expenditures related to legalization." We're focused on the legislative debate right now and we're not looking beyond the legislative session at this time.

Amendment 64 proponents told voters that passage of the measure "would result in immediate savings, and it will quickly grow into a major new revenue stream for our state and localities." Citizens must now demand that the industry be held accountable and deliver on promises made. So, let's see if the marijuana industry will back up its campaign promises by supporting this proposed accountability amendment instead of fighting it.

It's important to note that while the legislative session ends Friday, changes can still be made between now and then -- so it's entirely possible that the 10 percent sales tax currently envisioned could be increased to 15 percent, and repeal language could be inserted.

Here's the original version of 13-1318, as well as the Colorado Futures Center report mentioned by Anderson. That's followed by our previous coverage.

House Biill 13-1318: Recreational Marijuana Taxes

Colorado Futures Center: Fiscal Impact of Amendment 64

Continue for our previous coverage of the Amendment 64 repeal attempt, including draft language and more.


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127 comments
Che Harness
Che Harness

no. it's 15% excise tax + 10% special sales tax + 2.9% state sales tax + local sales tax = 33%+

William Farkas
William Farkas

Plus the days of smoking your dealer out are over as well. When u go to Taco Bell the register guy doesn't ask for a few bites of your meal. What bullshit lol

Che Harness
Che Harness

Why does it need to be taxed higher than other products? More demonizing of marijuana users.

Steve At Work
Steve At Work

Then again, how f'n convenient is it drop by and grab a bag? No more waiting on friends of friends who might have some to sell. Priceless.

Che Harness
Che Harness

and that was without having any real variety to choose from. But it's still outrageous.

Che Harness
Che Harness

Not really because they are limiting the amount of suppliers. Once it starts getting opened up to capitalist forces then the prices will really drop again.

Che Harness
Che Harness

All of this in on top of standard sales tax. So no, I'd support 5%

Steve At Work
Steve At Work

I've been trying to find an acceptable way to say "fuck you" to the elected moron who suggested this but gosh darn, "fuck you" are the only words that express it adequately.

Aaron Campbell
Aaron Campbell

sheeit boy, when I started out an ounce cost 50 bucks. Go ahead, tax the fuck out of it and watch all that filthy lucre stay in the underground economy where it belongs--the smart money will go into growing one's own regardless.

Evan Camomile
Evan Camomile

That guy's sign pisses me off. I'm all for legalizing pot but why on earth would you act like a prohibitionist about another substance? Hypocrite.

William Farkas
William Farkas

Bitching about taxes lol. When I used to spend $50 on a 1/8 and $100 on a quarter 4/5 times a month..

betweenthelines
betweenthelines

Hickenlooper let these 'Smart Colorado' pedophiles  in on the A64 process from the BEGINNING. He knew who they were. He knew they wanted repeal. He knew they wanted to monkey wrench the process. Yet they had a nice seat at the table.  He is a loser. Much like the rest.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Che Harness ... so grow your own and stop whining, you lazy slacker-stoner.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Che Harness ... because Stupid Stoners OFFERED to TAX THEMSELVES $40,000,000.00 per YEAR to get that piece of crap A64 passed.

Reap what ye sow, suckers!


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Half Aspen = surrendered TOTAL CONTROL of Marijuana to Prohibitionist Politicians, the Insatiable Dept. of Revenue and Law Enforcement Goons ... because he was too lame to know any dealers who were willing to sell him a pathetic ounce.


stuka1
stuka1

@Half Aspen  

"You are not gonna find work in THIS state again" might suffice.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@James B Bochenek Good use of an old slang term for marijuana, James. Thanks for the post.

stuka1
stuka1

@James B Bochenek  

Denver Hooch Party!

jhaul21
jhaul21

@Half Aspen already am babies are almost 2 weeks old 

folkandfaith
folkandfaith

@William Farkas still spend that in my state

stuka1
stuka1

@betweenthelines  

Hickenlooper, HandCock, Dan Pabon, Beth McCann, Mike Johnston, Charlie Brown....all committing political suicide right before our eyes.

JimTom
JimTom

@Sucka1 Cool if we get a Republician controlled congress maybe we can get rid of some of the stupid shit done this year. Hopefully we can get rid of Rhonda also, but I doubt it with her uneducated voters only seeing color.

stuka1
stuka1

...most of them Democretin turncoats, too.

El_Derpo
El_Derpo

Suka1 «««~~~~ drooling derp

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay

Your claims regarding that language are outright distortions and lies.

HipTip: Your highly slanted OPINIONS =/= facts. \

hth fucking moron.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1

A64: ... requiring the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund.

stuka1
stuka1

@ JimmySucksTheDonkeyOff

You SIAD what...? What's a "siad"...? LMAO @ illiterate retard

Keep wallowing in your pathetic delusions of Dem/GOP dichotomies.

JimTom
JimTom

@sucka1 did I say anything about being different? No poor reading from Sucka1 again. I just siad that maybe they could reverse the dumb ass shit that the dems did this year. READ.

stuka1
stuka1

@ JimTheDonkeySock

Republitard, Democretin...you think they are any different?  Wow, what a retard you are.

stuka1
stuka1

@ JimTheDonkeySock

I thought you had to go back to your "job". 

Wipe that nasty Santorum off your mouth.

JimTom
JimTom

@Sucka1 I know you couldn't resist your constant thoughts of gay sex. Why do you deny who you are? I hear you feel better when you admit to yourself what you are.

stuka1
stuka1

@   JimmyLovesTheDonkeyCock

Giving rusty trombones to hobos on Colfax isn't exactly a JOB, you really should know.

JimTom
JimTom

@sucka1  well this was a laugh, now i have to go back to may job, something I'm sure you know nothing about.

stuka1
stuka1

@JimmyLickingDonkeyBalls

All the time.

JimTom
JimTom

@Sucka1 read much?

stuka1
stuka1

@ JimmyPoleSmoker  ...admits its comments aren't anything of substance. 

Noted.

JimTom
JimTom

@Sucka1 as suspected you are just going to comment on typing mistakes instead of anything of substance.

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTheDonkeySock 

"form [sic]

LOL @ the illiterate troll  

JimTom
JimTom

@sucka1 Troll? that is funny coming form the #2 poster on WestTurd!

stuka1
stuka1

@ JimFelchingTom

Pretty funny that the troll whines about "useful comments". 

That would be "any", by the way. Derp.

JimTom
JimTom

@sucka1 do you have an useful comments? I didn't think so.

stuka1
stuka1

@  JimLicksDonkeyBalls

School is beyond your abilities.

JimTom
JimTom

@sucka1 typical noresponse when you don't have an argument. Maybe the state will pay for me to go to school with pot taxes?

stuka1
stuka1

@ JimmySucksTommy'sAss

Who the fuck do you think you are talking to, you pathetic racist churl? Assume much?

"Your [sic] an idiot"

English not your first language, moron?


JimTom
JimTom

@Sucka1 You get what you vote for when you elect dems. Do you really think the mostly hispanic voters of NW Denver are going to take away Pabon's 81%? Your an idiot.

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