Colorado to offer one-day tax holiday on marijuana
Colorado will repeal sales taxes on marijuana Sept. 16, thanks to a quirk in its constitution.
The one-time-only holiday from the 10 percent state sales tax on recreational pot is likely to generate buzz in the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana.
The little-noticed provision is part of a larger bill that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law Thursday that includes a ballot initiative in November and a permanent tax cut on recreational pot sales in 2017.
"This fiscal glitch that we have with the constitution ... that's part of the magic of living in Colorado," the Democratic governor said.
The impetus is the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, a measure championed by conservatives. The constitutional provision requires voters to approve new taxes based on estimates of collections and state spending. If the actual amount exceeds the estimates, refunds are necessary.
Colorado isn't collecting more pot taxes than expected — actually, the amount is far less than projections — but total state spending exceeded initial estimates because of the improving economy.
"This is only a first-year problem," said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who authored House Bill 1367. "We'll never have this problem again."
When triggered, TABOR also requires the tax rate to be cut to zero. State lawmakers agreed to eliminate the sales tax for one day to meet the constitutional obligations and then restore it. The tax holiday is expected to cost the state about $100,000 in revenue. The bigger price tag — $3.6 million — is what the state anticipates losing in revenue for a one-day elimination of the 15 percent excise tax on marijuana sales from cultivators to retailers.
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Lawmakers brace for marijuana vote-a-rama
Lawmakers are prepping for what could turn into a marijuana vote-a-rama Wednesday, sources say.
Pot advocates expect lawmakers to introduce at least half a dozen marijuana-related appropriations amendments that would roll back the Justice Department’s authority to enforce drug laws around the country.
The marijuana amendments would handicap the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its fight with states over the enforcement of local pot laws.
“The politics have continued to shift in favor of marijuana law reform,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority.
"For a long time, lawmakers treated marijuana as a third-rail issue that was too dangerous to touch,” he added. "But now that polling shows a growing majority of voters supports ending prohibition, more and more elected officials are starting to realize that demonstrating leadership on this issue has political benefits instead of harms.”
The marijuana amendments come as part of the Justice Department’s funding bill, which dictates the terms in which the agency can use the money.
Pot advocates are making a big push in advance of the vote to rally lawmakers to their side.
The Justice Department would be prohibited from using federal funds to interfere with states’ medical marijuana laws under an amendment expected from the California delegation — Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R) and Sam Farr (D).
The measure was approved by Congress for the first time in 2014 but it must be renewed each year when the DOJ’s spending bill expires.
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