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Hickenlooper’s revised budget flush with marijuana money

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DENVER — Colorado’s legal marijuana market is thriving, according to a budget proposal released Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper that indicates the first month of tax revenues from the new industry are far exceeding the state’s expectations.

Hickenlooper’s budget amendment proposes to spend some $99 million next fiscal year — all from the statewide 12.9 percent sales tax on marijuana that voters approved last fall — on substance abuse prevention, youth marijuana use prevention and other priorities.

Colorado’s total pot sales next fiscal year were estimated to be about $610 million.

Retail sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado. Sales have been strong, though exact figures for January sales won’t be made public until early next month.

“We are pleased to submit our request for allocation of new state resources available from passage of Proposition AA and the sales taxes from medical marijuana,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter this week to the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee.

“Our administration is committed to the responsible regulation of adult-use marijuana and the effective allocation of resources to protect public safety and health and to prevent underage use. Indeed, we view our top priority as creating an environment where negative impacts on children from marijuana legalization are avoided completely. Underage use of marijuana can have long-lasting effects on individuals and communities.”

The governor also proposed a $5.8 million, three-year “statewide media campaign on marijuana use,” presumably highlighting the drug’s health risks.

The state Department of Transportation would get $1.9 million for a new “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign to tout the state’s new marijuana blood-limit standard for drivers.

Also, Hickenlooper has proposed spending $7 million for an additional 105 beds in residential treatment centers for substance abuse disorders.

Amendment 64 leaders blasted the governor’s spending plan late Wednesday.

“Gov. Hickenlooper’s proposal reflects his long-held pro-alcohol, anti-marijuana mindset. His plan is to spend millions of dollars on marijuana propaganda and continue to ignore the fact that alcohol causes far more potential harm to consumers and the community,” a statement from Yes on 64 campaign co-director Mason Tvert says. “We support efforts to educate people about marijuana and prevent use by minors, but not when they are as myopic and wasteful as those proposed by the governor’s office.”

Yes on 64 co-director Brian Vicente says, “[the] proposal flies in the faces of voters who expected marijuana to be treated similarly to alcohol. Voters approved Amendment 64 because they wanted to put an end to government-run anti-marijuana campaigns, not to fund new ones. The governor should explain why he feels all of these new marijuana-related programs are necessary when the health and safety of teens are threatened to a much greater degree by alcohol use and prescription drug abuse.”

Given that marijuana sales just began less than two months ago, the current spending plan leaves room for forecast fluctuations and unknown needs that could arise during the year.

The spending plan now goes through the legislative process and will be finalized with the overall state budget for FY 2014-15.

See the governor’s full proposal here

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7 comments

  • mikemora

    Hilarious — the money earned from the pot taxes will in essence be used to build a treatment center for persons that abuse drugs! No net gain after all.

  • Gloria Adams

    People, he is talking 99 million in one year! “Some $99 million next fiscal year — all from the statewide 12.9 percent sales tax on marijuana that voters approved last fall — on substance abuse prevention, youth marijuana use prevention and other priorities”. None of these “priorities” are what I voted for! When will some of that money start going for more teachers with better salaries and schools with better security systems in place to protect our children? The governor also proposed a $5.8 million, three-year “statewide media campaign on marijuana use,” presumably highlighting the drug’s health risks. Tv ads & other ads that tell people not to use pot when it’s the pot that is paying for the ads? That was not part of the deal! $7 million for an additional 105 beds in residential treatment centers for substance abuse disorders. No, not what I signed up for either but ok…that’s about 13 mill. And the rest of the 86 million of our taxes? For what other “priorities? When does he see our teachers and babies safety as a priority? How about our taxes pay our vets that are out of work to protect our teachers and students? When will some of that money start going for more and better teachers with better salaries? It’s enough to build great buildings with advanced security systems in place to protect our children and their teachers. At the rate this money is coming in, that is enough to pay for an armed guard at every school for many years to come! How about I am angry beyond belief that this is how they are going to spend the money.

  • Tom Sanders

    And you better believe these people are going to waste this money by buying special interest votes…..very little will go where they say and somehow their won’t be any records on where this money went.

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