Marijuana: Will "no" vote on pot taxes prompt federal crackdown?

rob.corry.boulder.free.joint.rally.205x205.jpg
Rob Corry.
Earlier this week, we reported about the war of words between supporters and opponents of Proposition AA, which would set tax rates for recreational pot sales.

Attorney Rob Corry, who thinks the tax levels are too high (a point made at not one but two free-joint rallies this month), has challenged proponents to a debate, and he's getting frustrated by the lack of a response. So he shares some of his views with us and reacts to arguments against rejecting Prop AA -- including the prospect of a "no" vote inviting federal intervention.

A week or two back, Corry says the folks behind No on Prop AA, whose online home is NoOverTaxation.org, directly contacted a wide variety of people in favor of the measure about a possible debate. Those targeted included politicians (Senator Pat Steadman, representatives Dan Pabon and Jonathan Singer, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers) and marijuana scene figures (Brian Vicente, Christian Sederberg, Sean Coleman, Norton Arbelaez). But Corry says the only reply he received was from the Medical Marijuana Industry Group's Mike Elliott, who said "no."

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Photo by Brandon Marshall
Rob Corry with other attendees at this week's free-joint rally in Boulder.
"If push comes to shove and nobody will debate, we have entertained the idea of debating an empty chair or finding somebody to express their position on things," says Corry, who notes that Casselman's is holding open an October 3 date for a Prop AA-oriented event. "But we'd rather not. This issue is critical for Colorado for years to come. If this tax passes, we're never going to get rid of it. It's locked in forever, and it's only going to increase -- and all Coloradans, whether they were for or against Amendment 64, deserve a debate about the issue. They should be able to hear both sides before they make their decision" at the ballot box in November.

One concern among those who favor Proposition AA, which would establish a 15 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales and a 10 percent sales tax that could be increased to 15 percent if necessary, involves the federal government. Late last month, the Justice Department announced that it wouldn't sue to stop Amendment 64 from going into effect -- but in a memo to U.S. Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General James Cole reserved the right for the federal government to intervene if states fall short when it comes to regulating pot.

Could the feds interpret a rejection of Proposition AA as an indication Colorado is failing in this regard? Corry doesn't think so.

"The August 29 Cole memo says nothing about taxes," he says. "Now, obviously, these taxes were in the works well before August 29, and if the federal government has a position on Prop AA, it has every right to state its position clearly. But it hasn't endorsed Proposition AA -- and we argue that if it passes, the feds are more likely to come in that if it doesn't."

How so?

Continue for more of our interview with Rob Corry about Proposition AA.


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55 comments
jose257
jose257 topcommenter

Holder was issuing terms of surrender when he sent his letter to Colorado and Washington.  The feds have no right to dictate marijuana law in the states and the states do not have to accept the Fed's surrender terms.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

We don't have to pay the ridiculous sales tax surcharges that will guarantee the continuation of the black market; the General Assembly needs to send voters the excise tax authorized in the Constitution!

The notion of Federal intervention is a red herring; the Feds want regulation, not the obsessive monitoring scheme being proposed for Colorado -- so-called "seed to sale".  Blame Chris Romer and HB10-1284 -- the "robust regulation" has been a sham since the General Assembly hijacked medical cannabis, only now, with the implementation of the Marijuana Inventory Tracking System, the absurdity of the system Romer blustered about in 2010 is made manifest.  Imagine monitoring beer from seed to sale -- it would make as much sense as monitoring cannabis in this manner, and try to imagine the added expense of doing so.  There is no reason why businesses involved in the commerce in cannabis should not be able to cover the costs of reasonable regulation with the fees they pay for licensure; there is no justification whatsoever for any sales tax surcharge, much less an extra 15% each for the State and Denver City Council (I use the tax rates that those bodies can set if voters approve both Proposition AA and Referred Question 2A, respectively).

The General Assembly (GA) has ignored the will of the People regarding the tax to be assessed on cannabis; Proposition AA is emphatically not the tax measure we authorized last November.  The GA's disrespect for Amendment 64, TABOR, and the People should be repudiated irrespective of voters' stance on cannabis, and I and the No on AA Campaign (Rob's issue committee is called "No Over Taxation [sic]") hope to bring a message to all the voters that Proposition AA is wrong for Colorado.  Speaking to our base and libertarians, as Rob is doing, is essential, but it cannot win the day -- why has he so far failed to challenge Proposition AA before the Supreme Court?  The General Assembly is trying to salvage Prohibition by maintaining and even increasing penalties for cannabis (see SB13-250; thanks a lot, Pat Steadman) while seeking taxes that will fuel the black market; there will be plenty of people to arrest outside of the dispensary system.  In order to accomplish this evil purpose, the GA ignored the Constitution's directive to enact an excise tax and is denying voters the right to vote up or down the tax on cannabis we authorized a year ago.  The People may have to rescind felonies for cannabis (the most serious offense under the Liquor Code is a misdemeanor) and impose an excise tax on cannabis directly, because our supposed representatives are at war with the Constitution.  Democrats not on the gravy train are capable of seeing through what is not even a tissue of lies in justification of the outrageous sales tax surcharges that their fellow partisans in the GA and in Denver government are pushing, and if they want to preserve the right of the People to vote new taxes up or down, they will join us in defeating AA/2A.

Regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, and tax it like alcohol.  Implement a reasonable system of regulation capable of being funded out of businesses' license fees.  Enact up to a 15% excise tax on wholesale transfers of cannabis.  Rescind penalties for cannabis more severe than those for alcohol.  Our representatives' responsibilities with regard to implementing Amendment 64 are clear, and despite everything you've been told up to now, the General Assembly has failed to implement the Amendment.  Tell your State Representative and Senator that you want felonies for cannabis rescinded, to send us the excise tax we authorized in Amendment 64 (if the GA wants to send separate intiatives to voters proposing to fund Prohibition and every deficit of State government by taxing cannabis with exorbitant sales tax surcharges, it may), and to roll back an impossibly expensive regulatory scheme for cannabis that bears no resemblance to that applied to alcohol.

I hope to explore the possibility of running a serious, statewide campaign for voters' attention and consideration of the issues raised above, and will keep Westword informed of my progress.  No Overtaxation is doing good work, but we will have to reach far more voters with our message if we hope to win.  If you are interested in helping, please e-mail me.


Robert Chase

Director, No on AA Campaign

copatientsandcaregivers@gmail.com


JimTom
JimTom

Yeah, like the 85% of the voting public that does't smoke weed really give a shit what the tax on weed will be.

James McVaney
James McVaney

Donate to the No on Proposition AA campaign at noovertaxation.org Every penny you donate now can save you dollars in the future!

John Scruggs
John Scruggs

Just pass the damn taxes and prices will adjust accordingly. Govt. just wants a piece of the pie. Pay yourselves a little less and supply the market with average weed. If you want to tout quality, show your lab stats and charge a premium.

stuka1
stuka1

" ...the prospect of a "no" vote inviting federal intervention..."

.....is simply FUD-mongering on the part of the pro-AA propagandists.

stuka1
stuka1

"But Corry says the only reply he received was from the Medical Marijuana Industry Group's Mike Elliott, who said "no.""

That's because they know they will lose hands down in open debate.

Mitch Siff
Mitch Siff

Normally I would say no BUT in order for this (legalization) to take root, taxes are a necessary evil.

Ed Haas
Ed Haas

Balanced taxes, even above alcohol, fine. But over taxation would spell the end of the law. I've seen their so called projected sales trend charts and there's a number of factors they didn't consider when coming up with the current proposed rates. Split those numbers down the middle and the state reaps millions.

Douglas Roper
Douglas Roper

Nothing, state constitutions trump federal statutes

Matt Hazelton
Matt Hazelton

I think taxes are bullshit on a plant or anything for that matter but it also seems like the only current route to legalization. Hopefully more people wake up to the fact that taxation is theft. Guess getting it legal first then eventually getting rid of the tax will be the way to go

Sean Bracken
Sean Bracken

I just think it would be a wasted opportunity to avoid some painful cuts during still a very sluggish economy. That would be a big consequence. We need some. Although not excessive taxation.

NoTaxationWithoutRep
NoTaxationWithoutRep

Anyone who votes for these taxes is a SUCKER. We have  been terrorized by our own government for quite long enough and have endured their reckless behavior for too long. These taxes will be used to fund an INCREASE in the size of an already bloated state enforcement apparatus.....Basically, this money is going to be used to continue to ABUSE your fellow Colorado citizens at the hands law enforcement....As usual....A Vote for NO on these taxes is a vote for dignity and self-respect....Quit being so scared of your own shadows.....

George
George

With Lyin' Brian Vicente, Gov. Hickenlooper, AG Suthers and the Denver Post all on the YES team, I feel pretty good about being on the NO side. Support from these long-time prohibitionists shows exactly what these taxes are about -- raising more money for law enforcement. Crikey, with a 30%+ tax, this new "legalization" era is going to COST MORE THAN PROHIBITION DID!!!!!

Harry
Harry

$18,000 per store is being kind, I got word from one it will be $45,000 to just get your hat in the ring for the legal aspect.  This is on top of the fees they've already been paying for the MMJ.  They're RAPING propsective business owners and are wanting to bend over the consumers just as much.  We all agree it should be taxed, but at the rates they're proposing its flat out robbery.

stuka1
stuka1

@RobertChase  

I disagree with even the "up to 15%" excise tax as well, and will vote against any legislation that includes THAT, too.

buddy
buddy

@JimTom  

You obviously haven't seen the numbers that were generated off of your 15% (a number you made up).

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@James McVaney No, donate to the No on AA/2A campaign at NoOnAA.org (coming soon).

stuka1
stuka1

@John Scruggs 

 Just DON'T pass the damn taxes and prices will adjust accordingly.  A64 passed and is in effect without them.  Let the greedy legislature, kowtowing industry idiots and bitter prohibitionists go fuck themselves.

stuka1
stuka1

@Mitch Siff  

No, they are not. And especially the exorbitant, punitive, sabotaging taxes of Prop AA.

stuka1
stuka1

@Matt Hazelton

" but it also seems like the only current route to legalization." 


WRONG.  Legalization is already here, taxes or no. Don't be fooled by the prohibitionist propaganda -- read A64 for yourself.


"getting it legal first then eventually getting rid of the tax "


WRONG. If these bullshit taxes pass, they will be here to stay, and only go higher.


stuka1
stuka1

@Sean Bracken We don't need excessive taxes that put money in the coffers of lying idiotic neanderthal prohibitionist propagandists like Christian Turdstone, no fucking way in hell.

JimTom
JimTom

@Harry I don't feel bad for the MMJ cartel at all. Raise the fees to $100G. There are no "PROPSECTIVE BUSINESSES" Only existing MMJ cartel members are allowed to sell under A64 for the first 3 years.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@stuka1  That is fine, but the General Assembly's deliberate denial of voters' right to vote on the excise tax by itself is a key political point essential to defeating the sales tax surcharge.  Voters told the GA to enact an excise tax on cannabis, which TABOR dictates must be approved by a vote of the People, but the General Assembly is very deliberately trying to force us to vote for the excise and the GA's unjustified, exorbitant sales tax surcharge together.  Colorado's general animadversion to taxation will not be enough to defeat Proposition AA unless we succeed in communicating to the voters that:  1) the GA is acting against the Will of the People, 2) the claim that the sales tax surcharges are needed to regulate the industry and/or deal with other consequences of so-called "legalization" is bogus and reflects an absurdly overbearing, unworkable scheme to monitor cannabis "from seed to sale", and 3) high taxes will undercut the purpose of A64 by fueling the black market.  People who use cannabis and some libertarians are already in our camp, but anyone who thinks that these groups represent most of the electorate is extremely myopic; remember the Democrats and the Republicans?  We have just over a month to make the case to the electorate as a whole.

stupidstuka
stupidstuka

Ask your mom what Rob's cock tastes like.

JimTom
JimTom

@buddy @JimTom So Buddy how much of the voting population are smokers? Whta is your number and make sure you show your source if you say my number is crap I need proof of your crap.

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTom   When have I ever called him a hero?  Strawman much, asswipe?

Harry
Harry

@stuka1 Yes, you don't seem many legislative efforts to lower taxes on what the politicians claim are sin taxes.  Look at cigarettes.

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTom  WAITWHAT?  Aren't you the asswipe who keeps going on about how you are going to be undercutting the cartels by selling your shit in their own parking lot?  I can't wait 'til your face shows up in the SHMUCK column when you get busted!

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTom  I see you are taking over for DonkeyHotay as Most Irrelevant Asswipe Troll on the WW fora.

Harry
Harry

@JimTom @Harry Poor arguement.  So it's going to be less in 3 years to people who don't currently have a business?  Because people have an existing business and want to expand (it's new, so it is prospective) then they should be charged a lot?  You don't like this industry and more over your comments throughout the past year show you don't put any rational thought to your arguements.  Raise to 100k because why?  What's a valid point other than you don't like the model, you don't believe there's anyone who uses canabis for any other reason than to get high and you seem rather bitter on the whole thing?  Come back to the discussion when you can argue your points which seem doesn't seem like you every can especially since your rump ranger hero DH no longer haunts these forums.

JimTom
JimTom

@stuka1 @JimTom That does not make them reoccuring users. The stats I stated are for people that have smoked inn the last year. Do you really think a guy who smoked once in high school cares what the tax on weed will be? You are just so dense.

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTom  The onus is upon you to cite your source for your claim.  Grow the fuck up.

JimTom
JimTom

@stuka1 @JimTom Your comment speak for you, you have your head so far up Corry's ass you can hit his (illegally smoked)  joint.

stuka1
stuka1

@testiclulitis   Um stupid punkass, taxation is not regulation.  Go fuck yourself, troll.

JimTom
JimTom

@stuka1 @JimTom I never siad I would follow the stupid rules and laws of the stupid A64. I am not the sex offender who claims to be the pot savior. As usual you have  no real response you just spout shit. How is your hero know?

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTom  You don't know shit, and I grow my own as well, asswipe. 

"If you are stupid enough to fall for the cartel and their A64 you deseve every tax your stupid ass will pay."

 What an ignorant, shortsighted fuckwit you are. We voted to break the chokehold of Prohibition, and now they are on the run because of it.  The floodgates are open.  No thanks to greedy, bitter fucktards like you.

JimTom
JimTom

@stuka1 @JimTom I'm not paying any taxes. I grow my own. I will never step foot in a cartel store. If you are stupid enough to fall for the cartel and their A64 you deseve every tax your stupid ass will pay. I know regardless of the tax imposed your stupid Suck1 ass will be paying it.

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTom

Your argument notwithstanding, the costs of all of these taxes are ultimately paid by the CONSUMER.   Is it so hard for you to understand that, idiot?

JimTom
JimTom

@Harry @JimTom Hey idiot my point is that unless you are CURRENTLY a MMJ cartel member you CANNOT open a retail sales locations on Jan. 1st.  Is it that hard for you to understand that nobody but the current MMJ cartel can open a retail shop for 3 years.

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