Marijuana bills loaded with new amendments -- including one to revive THC driving limit
Yesterday, we noted that the marijuana bills needed to implement Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of cannabis, would be facing their first tests. But the exams are far from over.
The most high-profile of the bills squeaked out of its first committee by a 6-5 vote -- but it's been larded with amendments, including an attempt to resurrect THC driving limits from the dead after the proposal seemingly snuffed it earlier this week.
Dean Toda, communication director for the House Democrats, walks us through the rapidly moving process.
"There are three marijuana bills," he notes. "One of them" -- Senate Bill 13-283 -- "implements the non-controversial recommendations of the legislative joint select committee impaneled in February."
A brief aside: In this context, "non-controversial" means those recommendations that received unanimous support from the joint select committee. However, marijuana activist Robert Chase finds the measure to be very controversial, calling it "a direct declaration of war against cannabis-users and a monumental gesture of contempt for the express will of the people of Colorado that cannabis be regulated like alcohol."
Dan Pabon, sponsor of HB 13-1317, with Governor John Hickenlooper.
The two other proposals? They're House Bills 13-1317 and 13-1318, with the first qualifying as "the majority report from the joint select committee -- a round-up of the issues that didn't receive unanimous support," Toda says.
And 13-1318 "implements the tax structure," he explains. "Because of TABOR, any new taxes have to be referred to the people. So the bill sets up a referendum this November on the creation of an additional sales tax of up to 15 percent on recreational marijuana and an excise tax of up to 15 percent. So that's a total of up to 30 percent in taxes on recreational marijuana, with the first $40 million to go toward a K-12 capital construction fund in the state."
This last dictate may be difficult to accomplish according to a just-released study by CSU's Colorado Futures Center. We've got the full report below (along with the three bills as originally submitted), but the summary spotlights five points -- including the seemingly contradictory assertion that while recreational marijuana will generate more than $130 million in tax revenues, the way the excise tax is structured will prevent it from coming up with that aforementioned $40 million for school construction. The study also suggests that the program will neither pay for itself nor make up for the state's budget shortfall. Here's the breakdown:
1. The adult recreational marijuana market in Colorado will be $605.7 million and taxation of that market will bring an additional $130.1 Million in state tax revenue in fiscal year 2014‐15.No doubt legislators will look to address these issues -- and there's no shortage of other topics on their plate.
2. The 15% wholesale excise tax created by the amendment will not reach the goal of $40 Million for school construction as stipulated in the ballot language approved by voters.
3. The high water mark for marijuana tax revenue is likely to be in the first few post‐legalization years with revenue flattening or declining thereafter.
4. Marijuana tax revenues may not cover the incremental state expenditures related to
5. Marijuana tax revenues will not close Colorado's structural budget gap.
Continue for more about the three Colorado marijuana bills working their way through the state legislature, including the original documents.