Colorado approves letting state keep pot taxes
DENVER — Colorado voters agreed Tuesday to allow the state to keep $66 million worth of marijuana taxes despite an accounting error that could have forced the state to refund the money to taxpayers and pot growers.
An error in a pot tax measure approved two years ago led to the proposition. The error required the state to ask voters again if it could keep the revenue collected last year from a 10-percent sales tax and 15-percent excise tax on recreational pot.
The vote means the state won’t have to refund the $66 million, and the 10 percent sales tax won’t be cut almost entirely for a time. Instead, the state will put the money toward school construction and educational and anti-drug efforts.
Proposition BB had broad support from Democrats, Republicans, the marijuana industry and nearly every newspaper in the state.
Lawmakers insisted that the marijuana money would be spent as voters generally intended when they approved the taxes in 2013. For example, the measure sends $40 million to a school construction fund.
But it also gives money to some new recipients, including the 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America. In the case of 4-H, the money is actually going to the Colorado State Fair, which expects to receive $300,000 for renovations.
The Colorado Department of Education will get $2 million for a new “school bullying prevention and education cash fund.”
An additional $200,000 goes to the Department of Law to train police. Roadside marijuana impairment could be the training topic, but the measure does not require the money to spend on anything pot-related.
An even bigger chunk, $8 million, doesn’t have any designated recipient. That’s because more taxes were collected than lawmakers expected when the ballot measure was written.
The measure’s main author, Democratic state Sen. Pat Steadman, said the $8 million will go to the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, which can be used for numerous educational and anti-drug efforts.
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