Marijuana taxes over 30 percent to start and other highlights from (almost) final pot bills
The THC-driving-limits bill, which could have a devastating impact on medical marijuana patients like William Breathes, our pot critic, was only one of several huge cannabis-related bills that passed yesterday. The measures still must go through a procedure or two today, the last of the legislative session, but they're thought to be more or less in their final versions. So we asked marijuana attorney and activist Warren Edson for bullet-point takes on the legislation's lingo for everything from taxes to treating weed mags like porn.
As part of House Bill 13-1318, the latest version of which is featured below, the legislature approved a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana, as well as a 10 percent sales tax "that they can adjust up to 15 percent," Edson says. "It talks about how the sales tax starts at 10 percent, but it can be cranked up to 15 percent with a vote of the legislature and the signature of the governor."
This approach appears to have been put in place to avoid another trip to the polls. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, requires that voters approve all taxes, so a ballot measure to okay the numbers above will be on the ballot in November. But if the bill had simply set the taxes at 10 percent and the legislature subsequently decided an increase to 15 percent was necessary, the matter would otherwise have had to wait for the next election.
This work-around is the kind of thing to which Douglas Bruce, the father of the TABOR legislation, might see as violating the spirit of the law. It'll be interesting to see how he responds after it's signed into law.
In the meantime, Edson notes that local sales taxes will also apply to marijuana -- amounts that are typically in the 6-8 percent range. Thus, even if the 10 percent sales tax sticks, "you're overall going to end up with a tax somewhere between $32 and $35 dollars on every $100 purchase. That's a whole lot of money that gives the black market a whole lot of wiggle room."
• MAGAZINES AND ADVERTISING:
The final version of House Bill 13-1317, the main regulatory proposal, hasn't been published online at this writing. But Edson says restrictions requiring that marijuana magazines be displayed behind the counter, like porn rags, at general-interest outlets remain in the final bill, despite statements by an attorney for High Times that the publication will likely sue over the provision.
The matter "was pretty heavily discussed yesterday," Edson notes. "One person who spoke held up a High Times and another magazine and talked about how they teach people to grow and use illegal drugs. He kept referring to it as illegal drugs, which they are federally, and asking, 'Do you want your kids subjected to this kind of filth?'
"There was also mention of constitutional rights, meaning free speech, but they passed the sucker anyhow."
As such, Edson says, "I think we'll see some challenges the second the governor signs it -- especially to those parts relating to advertising and magazine display and sales."
Continue for more about the (probably) final marijuana bills.