A small bag of weed will still cost more than a six-pack of beer, but Colorado voters next month decide whether to tax it more.
Proposition AA could mean a difference of $7 for an 1/8-ounce bag of marijuana priced at $32.38 in unincorporated Larimer County.
That's a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana, if passed directly to the consumer, plus a 10 percent sales tax added to existing sales taxes of 3.5 percent.
"This is the largest tax increase ever in Colorado history," said Denver marijuana lawyer Rob Corry, whose opposition efforts have included passing out free joints in Denver and Boulder. "These taxes are many orders of magnitude higher than what alcohol pays."
The ballot measure to deal with the unprecedented, legal marijuana industry does call for higher taxes on pot than for alcohol. But marijuana would be taxed less than a pack of cigarettes, which is subject to state and federal excise taxes of 34 percent, plus 2.9 percent sales tax in Larimer County.
Proposition AA supporters, many of whom campaigned to legalize marijuana in 2012, say the taxes will help ensure compliance with a recent statement from the federal government. The U.S. Attorney General's Office issued a memo in August indicating medical and legalized marijuana is OK as long as it isn't distributed to kids or to states where it's illegal, among other concerns. Only Colorado and Washington have approved legalized marijuana.
"We have to fund this," said Erica Freeman, co-owner of Choice Organics, a medical-marijuana dispensary that could be selling retail pot in January. "That's the most important, bottom-line thing we have to do besides keeping it away from kids."
She said failure of Proposition AA could have her re-thinking the conversion to retail marijuana for fear of Colorado drawing the ire of the federal government. Federal agencies have raided and ordered shutdowns of medical-marijuana businesses deemed too close to schools or otherwise unacceptable.
State Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, supports the measure. He said if it failed, finances to regulate retail marijuana would likely come out of the general fund. That could affect higher education.
Read the entire story on The Coloradoan
(Copyright © 2013 Fort Collins Coloradoan, All Rights Reserved)