Andrea Merida, new Denver Green Party co-chair, urges "no" vote on marijuana taxes
Outgoing Denver Public Schools board member Andrea Merida, once an active member of the Democratic party in Denver, is now co-chair of the 1,800-member Denver Green Party.
Photo by Anthony Camera
And in that capacity, Merida, seen here, is speaking out on two ballot measures: Proposition AA and Referred Question 2A. Both deal with marijuana taxes, an issue Merida says is important to a segment of the population that the Green Party is trying to reach -- namely "the young, working-class voter."
"This is something that they're disproportionately affected by," Merida says, explaining that there's a stigma attached to marijuana that's "very race-based and very class-based."
"These are people who are not served by the system and are not reached out to by the two major parties," she adds. "We're serious about talking for people who don't have a voice."
Proposition AAContinue for more of our interview with Andrea Merida.
The claim of proponents of Proposition AA is that passage would fulfill the wishes of the voters as represented in Amendment 64, now Article 18, Section 16 of the Constitution of the State of Colorado, which states:
"...the people of the state of Colorado find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol."
Current beer taxes are 8 cents per gallon plus 8 percent sales tax.
Proposition AA would raise excise (wholesale) tax to 15% and would allow the state legislature to impose at least a 10% sales tax but as much as 15%. Simple math shows a drastic disparity of taxation levied on recreational marijuana sales and consumption, which we do not believe is a "manner similar to alcohol."
We do not believe that a tax increase of 30%, when beer is only at 16%, is a demonstration of "similar."
Denver's Referred Question 2A
This question, upon passage, would authorize the Denver City Council to immediately apply a tax of 3.5% on all recreational marijuana sales but also gives authorization to apply an additional tax up to a total of 15% as the council sees fit.
The purpose of the tax, according to the drafters of the question, is to pay for:
- Direct and indirect expenses related to licensing and regulation of the retail marijuana industry
- Enforcement of marijuana laws in general
- Educational and health programs on the "negative consequences" of using marijuana or related products
- Programs to keep young people under 21 from using or buying
- Upkeep and operation of the city and its facilities
Should recreational marijuana users contribute to the general well-being of the city in which they live? Of course they should, and that should include paying sales taxes. But just as in the case of Proposition AA, we do not believe that an additional tax of up to 18.5% is a legitimate expression of the people's wishes in the Constitution, when Denver's current tax code specifies a 4% tax on liquor sales.