DENVER --Voters gave the go ahead for new taxes on the recreational marijuana industry by a wide margin Tuesday.
Results were still coming in, but with 742,601 total votes, Proposition AA was winning 64 to 35 percent.
Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, said the passage of Proposition AA "means Colorado will have a strong and well-funded regulatory system, along with funding for education, prevention, treatment, and other safety issues that may arise."
"Colorado's medical marijuana program has improved public safety, and Proposition AA will help continue this progress," Elliott said.
“The passage of Proposition AA today completes the historic process of regulating and taxing marijuana in the state of Colorado," said Brian Vicente, proponent for the Committee for Responsible Regulation and co-director of last year's Amendment 64 campaign. "We are now poised to demonstrate to the world the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition and embracing this new system."
A year after Colorado approved Amendment 64, approving the legal recreational use of marijuana, voters were asked — as they must be, under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights — to approve the taxes on the product.
The legislature, trying to find a tax rate that would fund the new regulatory framework needed to oversee the industry without going so high that buyers revert to the black market, finally settled on a 15 percent excise tax (built into the cost of the product) and a 10 percent sales tax (applied at the register).
Lawmakers haven’t spent much money on a campaign convincing voters to approve Proposition AA, believing that most Coloradans — it’s estimated that some 90 percent of the state’s population won’t be buying pot at all despite the new law — are likely to approve the tax rates on a product that few of them will actually buy.
If it’s approved, it could also mean $40 million for a school construction fund administered by the state to repair infrastructure damage, something that was written into Amendment 64 to win approval from voters.
If voters reject the marijuana taxes, lawmakers will be forced to dip into the state’s general fund, taking money away from education spending, to pay for the regulatory framework within the Dept. of Revenue.
Denver is also asking its citizens to approve a 3.5 percent city tax on marijuana purchases to offset its own regulatory costs.