This November, voters will vote on Proposition AA, which calls for an excise tax of 15% on wholesale marijuana, and a 15% sales tax on retail sales of marijuana, which is an additional 10% on existing taxes, plus an additional 5% that can be raised or lowered without voter approval.
Proposition AA is a bait and switch on Colorado voters by some of the very people who promoted and wrote Amendment 64. They asked voters to regulate marijuana like alcohol, of which the average excise tax is around 6%, and are asking for more taxes than what voters voted for.
These additional sales taxes were NOT what Coloradans voted for. Voter’s voted for the excise tax that was to be capped at 15%, yet legislatures and the Committee for Responsible Regulation are asking for even more money in the largest tax measure in Colorado history.
This is just a money grab using fear mongering and playing on the emotions of people wanting marijuana to be legitimate. In reality, if people vote no on Proposition AA, according to NORML and other thought leaders in marijuana policy not beholding to special interests, sales taxes and licensing fees will be plenty of money to regulate the new industry.
Proponents of Proposition AA say we need this to properly regulate the industry to avoid the feds coming in. The federal government has not issued a statement that says Denver has to have excessive taxes or else. There is no evidence on their behalf that there will not be enough money to enforce marijuana laws. Economists predict marijuana to be a boon economy that will create lots of tax revenue without having to have excessive tax rates.
In Denver, these taxes are in addition to 2.9% state sales tax and 7.62% sales tax rates. Adding to the tax burden, Denver is proposing an extreme 15% local sales tax (3.5% that can be raised to 15% without voter approval, making the possible marijuana tax rate a whopping 52.62%!
Proposition AA violates the Tax Payers Bill of Rights Act (TABOR) by forcing voters to vote away their rights under the act. TABOR gives voters the right to vote for tax increases, however Proposition AA is asking voters to vote that right away and give that power to the legislatures only.
Native Coloradans, many who are used to lower costs influenced by the medical marijuana industry, will not want to pay these exorbitant taxes and instead go back to purchasing marijuana on the black market, which will proliferate under these extreme tax conditions.
Marijuana legalization, if regulated properly, will provide for a new frontier in economic growth. However, through over regulation and over taxation, the fledgling industry risks going back into the hands of the black market, undoing decades of work in righting failed and expensive drug war policies.
In addition to enriching black market, these tax increases will decimate small and medium sized marijuana businesses. Only corporations the size of Walmart or Phillip Morris will be able to grow the amounts of marijuana necessary to be able to afford these extreme taxes. This tax measure is not for Coloradans, this is for the big industries looking to corner the market.
This is an all or nothing vote. Coloradans must vote for all of the tax increases, not just the ones they initially voted for under Amendment 64. Voting no on Proposition AA will keep the existing tax rate, which is much more reasonable. It will also force the legislature to send us newer and fairer taxes to vote on, separately.
We are asking Coloradans to vote NO on Proposition AA in order to keep a nascent industry from returning to the black market and closing the door on tremendous economic opportunity for everyone.