Is Colorado High on Sin Taxes?
All Coloradans will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition AA “Marijuana Tax” this November. However, is the Proposition “High on Taxes”?
Most marijuana users agree with a marijuana tax, as that was part of the argument to pass Amendment 64, the legalization of pot. Yet many are opposed to Proposition AA because of the higher than expected proposed tax rate.
Attorney Rob Corry, known as a leading litigator in medical marijuana cases and treasurer of the “NO on AA Campaign”, passes out free joints at events in Colorado Springs, Boulder and Denver in defiance of the proposition while delivering messages about the doom of regulated recreational pot before it even starts because of the 15 percent excise tax and 10 percent sales tax being proposed.
“It’s bait and switch; it’s misleading to the voters; and it’s not what we intended in Amendment 64,” says Corry in an interview with the Indy. “What we intended in Amendment was [that] marijuana be treated like alcohol. That’s the title of the [campaign], and it should be taxed similar to alcohol, which is taxed under 1 percent excise tax; and the alcohol industry is quite well-regulated.”
Regulation of how the two taxes will be divided up is in relation to annual revenue. The first $40 million generated annually by the excise tax “sin tax” would go to the BEST program, a public and charter school construction program. The sales tax, which could be raised as high as 15 percent if passed would be used to fund regulation of the new industry, “as well as related costs for health, education, and public safety, which are not currently funded,” according to the state’s Blue Book.
According to Joe Megyesy, communications director for the AA-Supporting Committee for Responsible Regulation, “the time to have the negotiation about what the rate should be has passed, it was earlier this year, at the Legislature, and many of these activists were not around when we were having that discussion.”
Despite if the proposed tax even passes, it is still unclear if the money raised through taxes will be enough. The estimated taxes may be insufficient to cover all costs associated with regulation according to a report by the Colorado Futures Center.
This is what the economist Phyllis Resnick has to say about the proposed “sin tax”; “I think, over time, we’re gonna want to do public-health studies; there’s gonna be labeling issues; there’s potentially public-safety issues that we don’t know about yet. So there’s gonna be costs associated with what we do, and so I think it’s very appropriate to tax it and dedicate those taxes to covering the costs associated with the program.”
So, what about a proposed futures tax reduction? Reducing the tax to that of alcohol tax standards in 5 or 10 years, once the potential issues have been set up, paid for and resolved?