Marijuana taxation proposal clears committee, sets up floor debate

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DENVER — As a helter-skelter legislative session entered its final, chaotic stretch, House lawmakers are set to debate two landmark proposals aimed at implementing legal marijuana in Colorado, which voters approved last November.

On a busy Thursday afternoon, the House Finance Committee approved both marijuana bills on 7-6 party-line votes.

House Bill 1318 addresses the taxation of legal marijuana and attempts to set a tax rate that will bring in enough revenue to fund the new regulatory framework monitoring the industry without being so high that marijuana users continue to go to the black market.

Because all new taxes must be approved by voters under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, H.B. 1318 sets up a statewide referendum on the proposed sales and excise tax rates of 15 percent on retail marijuana.

The proceeds will be divided among the public school capital construction fund local governments and to pay the operating expenses of the Marijuana Enforcement Division, which will regulate the legalized marijuana production, sale and consumption that were mandated by the voters of Colorado when they approved Amendment 64 last November.

The committee also approved House BIll 1317, which lays out the regulatory framework within the Dept. of Revenue for how Amendment 64 will be implemented.

That proposal was amended Wednesday by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee to include a Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) statute after legislation to do so was killed by a Senate committee Monday night.

Both bills are likely to be debated by the full House on second reading on Friday.

If they pass a final, recorded vote in the House Monday, they’ll head to the Senate for consideration.

The legislative session must come to an end on May 8.

Data pix.

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