Marijuana: Denver's projected revenues from recreational pot won't cover expenditures
This was the first time that councilmembers had seen the expenditures as a whole, and they have a variety of concerns about the projected costs.
Councilwoman Robin Kniech.
"It seems to me that there is probably a consensus here about the need to cover the cost of regulation," councilwoman Robin Kniech said. "I'm still struggling with the assumptions of what's inside the regulations, though, and what's additional. For example, every new dollar in revenue in not a new dollar in users; it's not that no one used marijuana yesterday, and today, now they're all using."
Currently there are six detectives and one sergeant assigned specifically to medical marijuana cases, and under the proposal there will be 26 officers assigned to recreational marijuana. That, she said, is like the committee assuming a four times increase in marijuana usage with legalization.
Other criticisms concerned the high cost of regulation and enforcement compared to the low costs of health and education.
"This [health and education] pie chart is the one I think that is the most underestimated," said councilwoman Jeanne Faatz, who had a particular issue with the amount being contributed to mental health. Under the current proposal, the city will fund three of eleven mental health centers at schools.
The July 8 presentation was just a proposal; the actual budget and expenditures do not have to be determined until the end of August, which gives the city's financial team time to consider the suggestions made by the council.
The tax rate, however, is a pressing issue: The vote on that is scheduled for the July 29 Denver City Council meeting. And at least among the councilmembers at yesterday's meeting, there seems to be a consensus of starting out with a 5 percent sales tax rate, with the possibility of increasing it to 10 to 15 percent. But the council vote won't be the final word; the proposed Denver sales tax would then have to go to the ballot in November, when Coloradans will also be voting on state taxes on recreational marijuana.
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