Marijuana: Denver City Council recommends lower sales tax out of fear higher one would fail

Categories: Marijuana

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Denver City Council has marijuana on the brain, though sadly not in the way we would like to see.

Council spent most of yesterday dealing with marijuana issues, starting with a three-hour committee meeting focused largely on zoning and ending with a lengthy council meeting spent debating marijuana tax proposals. A majority eventually opted for a lower sales tax rate than originally envisioned, in part because of fears voters would reject a higher one.

Specifically, the council preliminarily agreed by a 7-6 margin to move forward with a 3.5 percent special sales tax on marijuana that could be raised to as much as 15 percent down the line. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock had initially urged council to set the tax rate at 5 percent, but a report from Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher projected that a 5 percent rate would likely fail if put to voters.

A final vote on the rate will take place at the council's next meeting, Monday, August 6, and the public will be given an opportunity for comment before members weigh in. If approved, the tax proposal will go before Denver voters in November along with the proposed 25 percent combined excise and sales tax agreed upon at the state level.

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A group photo of Denver City Council.
Since the bill was touted to regulate marijuana "like alcohol," it's worth noting that Denver does not have a special alcohol tax -- and council members couldn't enact one if they wanted to, according to state law.

Booze is taxed the same as all other general retail sales tax items. Instead, the state collects an alcohol excise tax based on volume: $.08 for every gallon of beer, $.0733 for every gallon of wine and $.6026 for every liter of liquor. Even so, the rates are nowhere near as high as those envisioned for cannabis. On an average, mid-priced liter of gin, you'd be paying about 8.6 percent in tax. A keg of beer would come out to be about .66 percent.

Among the main issues raised in the committee meetings was zoning for recreational marijuana shops and whether or not public hearings would be required before a medical marijuana dispensary could switch over to a recreational shop.

Local marijuana attorney Warren Edson notes that council decided not to mandate what are known as "needs and desires" hearings before a recreational marijuana dispensary could open. Such hearings are required for establishments that sell alcohol and require people to testify or sign their names to a petition that says they want that establishment in their neighborhood, because they;d like to have access to alcohol.

Such hearings for marijuana were shot down, Edson says, after several council members pointed out so long as marijuana remains federally illegal, few citizens would want to testify on record that they want or need the herb.

Continue for more about the Denver City Council and marijuana regulations.


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17 comments
whosdp
whosdp

What the City Council ought to be considering is the efficacy of taxing a legal product that's still so available, underground.  While advocates of 64 claimed there would be a huge windfall of new tax revenue, I thought...and still think...those predictions were folly.

Taxes are SUPPOSED to be all about raising needed revenues to run the government, NOT punishment for enjoying LEGAL products.  Any attempts to overtax pot will result in increased black market sales and increased home cultivation, both anathema to those who advocate for ridiculously high tax structures.

Colorado has the opportunity to create numerous new revenue streams.  Canna-tourism will bring in all sorts of new visitors, producers and vendors.  I COULD kill it's new-found Golden Goose, only by relying too heavily on front-end sales taxes and onerous regulatory hurdles.  As anyone who now buys from MMJ dispensaries knows, the existing sales taxes amount to more than chump-change.

Rather than discouraging this industry, the State should embrace the potential of this near-monopoly and stop trying to find ways to get rich, too quickly.

Hank
Hank

Can't wait to vote no on this.  If we could only add a middle finger after, especially to Charlie Brown and Jeanne Faatz that would really make my day.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

The way the Fabians always did this, is they would offer a 30% tax under one group's name, and a "moderate" 15% tax under another group's name, so they could sell the efficacy and reasonability of the "moderate" 15% tax by comparing it to the "unnecessary" 30% tax. This, of course, obscures the reality that no such tax is necessary, because taking pot out of the hands of drug dealers and taking the responsibility out of the hands of law enforcement saves money and effort.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

I plan to vote NO.

It should be taxed the same as booze. Therefore, tax dope based upon its alcohol content.

Kush_is_my_Cologne
Kush_is_my_Cologne

I would change the title of this article to: 

Marijuana: Denver City Council recommends lower sales tax out of sensible and strategic thinking.

stuka1
stuka1

@Hank Don't forget to vote against these assholes when they come up for re-election.  The first question out of any pro-cannabis citizen's or activist's mouth to any candidate should be where they stand on cannabis, and on taxes and policy on cannabis. 


WHY have cannabis activists not gathered and published the names and voting records of ALL prohibitionist and pro-over-taxing and over-regulating legislators in the state, and begun to campaign against their re-election?

stuka1
stuka1

@Cognitive_Dissident   " taking the responsibility out of the hands of law enforcement saves money and effort." 

 Why should law enforcement have a hand in ANY of it any more?  The People have spoken and determined that it should NOT be illegal, PERIOD. Law enforcement should realize that this takes them (AND THEIR OPINIONS) entirely out of the equation.

TxTransplant.
TxTransplant.

@davebarnes Cannabis is not even close to "Dope".

stuka1
stuka1

@Djadamstall  

The words "sensible" and "Denver City Council" do not belong in the same Zip Code.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@stuka1

I agree that law enforcement should be out of the equation, but apparently a lot of people who voted for 64 wanted to "regulate it like alcohol.*" I didn't vote for it, and was ready to support I-70 instead. What a pity!

----------------

* What's worse is that "regulate it like alcohol" is a massive lie. I just bought a margarita at Chipotle a couple days ago, and for a number of illogical reasons, there's no chance in hell they'll allow Chipotle to sell me cannabis to enjoy in their fine restaurant any time in the near future. If it was really being regulated like alcohol, that wouldn't be an issue.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

WTF!? I have called mj "dope" since 1970.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Vicodin is dope.

My dentist never gives me drugs. I have cavities filled and crowns installed without any drugs.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

My dictionary defines "dope" as illegal recreational drugs. In the context of so-called "legalization," cannabis is no longer "dope." In the context of medicine, it never has been "dope."

Since it's medicine to me and countless other patients, legal and illegal, the term "dope" is offensive. Is Vicodin "dope?" What if your dentist gives it to you?

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Not participating in a "cause". Unless the cause is to make all drugs (except anti-biotics) over the counter.

TxTransplant.
TxTransplant.

@davebarnes Dope: i.e, cocaine, meth, painkillers, heroin are not only "Mood" altering drugs, they are "Life" altering.

Cannabis: Not so much

With all due respect, as long as cannabis is called "Dope", users are stereotyped with users of the aforementioned "Dope". Not good for the cause.

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