Governor proposes 50 percent marijuana tax hike for school funding

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DENVER -- Gov. John Hickenlooper has announced a plan to increase marijuana taxes as a way of funding schools.

The governor's plan would increase the special marijuana use tax from 10 percent to 12 percent.

The tax is scheduled to decrease to 8 percent later this year, making 12 percent the equivalent of a 50 percent hike.

The governor hinted at possible changes during his State of the State address after mentioning the Gallagher Amendment, the little-known provision in the Constitution that mandates property taxes are decreased when certain conditions are met.

"The constitutional budget constraints for school finance are the thorniest part of our fiscal thicket," Hickenlooper said.

"This July, the Gallagher Amendment will cause property taxes for schools to drop by $170 million," Hickenlooper said during his address.

Hickenlooper's attempt at coming up with the cash has some in the marijuana industry upset.

"I think it's burdensome. We are already paying quite a bit," said Justin Henderson, owner of Peak Marijuana dispensary off Broadway in Denver.

Henderson said buying $100 worth of marijuana means customers will pay close to $25 in taxes.

"We are about as taxed as the industry can handle," Henderson said.

A recent Problem Solvers investigation showed last year the state received about $134 million in revenue with about $40 million going to schools.

The proposed tax increase would generate more than $40 million in additional revenue, according to the governor's office.

The measure still needs to be debated by the full General Assembly.

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