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Colorado Voters Approve Taxes On Legal Marijuana

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colorado marijuana legalization taxIn a move that didn’t surprise many people, Colorado voters yesterday approved a 15% excise tax and a 10% sales tax on legal recreational marijuana sales. There was some opposition to the proposition, but it was widely predicted that the proposition would pass. The final vote tally showed the proposition passed 65% to 35%. I know there will still be some people upset about how high the taxes are, but it could be worse.

Washington State is looking to tax recreational marijuana at a far higher percentage. Unlike in Washington State, Colorado residents have a very easy way to get around the tax – grow your own marijuana. Colorado allows home cultivation, while Washington State doesn’t. It could be even worse than in Washington. If someone lives in a state where marijuana is very much illegal, like say Louisiana, there is no amount of tax that can be paid for legal marijuana purchases, and if you grow it at home you could be looking at some hefty jail time and fines.

Before people get up in arms about the new taxes in Colorado, take a step back and try to get back in the mindset before the 2012 Election victory. Remember when everyone was saying that we should legalize marijuana, tax it, and have the revenue generated go to help balance budgets? If you were told at that time that legalization would become a reality, but it would come at the expense of 25% in tax, would you have taken the deal? It seems that only after the reality of the situation is setting in that some people are freaking out.

Would I like to see a lower tax rate? Of course. But would I throw legalization out the window in exchange for a different tax rate? Of course not, because legal marijuana taxed at 25% is better than no legal marijuana at all. We can fight the tax fight another day, during another election. For right now we need to remember that there are states that don’t have legal marijuana at all. I guarantee there is someone in Texas scratching their head wondering what all the fuss is about. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section.

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Johnny Green

58 Comments

  1. Pádráig O'Gáirmléadháigh on

    @ Boris….
    ……You ought look up the meaning of “Straw man argument” and if you still don’t understand it get someone explain it to you…..

  2. Pádráig O'Gáirmléadháigh on

    Here in Europe , Ireland and the UK specifically, we pay £350 per oz, which @ current exchange rates is $567. I don’t see what you gripe is. It isn’t a naturally grown plant any more? A lot of work has gone into breeding best strains and tastes and it takes a lot of work growing a commercial Marijuana garden, what with security needed etc….Would you rather it was still illegal so more people will end up in privately run gaols??

  3. Started on Jan 1st at $100 per 1/4 ounce as a general price. So make that $125. As of today, due to demand the price has raised to $400 per 1/4 ounce. Do the math on that sales tax.

    I’m not a psychic, but I think the market will fizzle with the local Coloradoans, and stay strong with the tourists, since in Colorado you can now grow your own.

  4. I’d just grow my own. Little effort needed, much lower cost. Money will still be saved in not chasing and incarcerating people for pot.

  5. I saw info about prices of $60 for an eighth of an ounce in Colorado. That would be $480 per ounce – although it’s likely to be cheaper for a larger quantity. Seems like quite a lot for a naturally growing weed.

  6. Wrong the first time. The question is, whom do you tax? Answer: the far-less-than-1% who own this country, and are actively working to raise YOUR taxes, and lower their own.

    You’ve been duped. Stop drinking the kool aid.

  7. I read not long ago that the overhead for Medicare is 3%. In Canada, the overhead for their national health care is ONE PERCENT. Social Security is self funding, such that the government has repeatedly borrowed from it to cover other temporary expenses. So, in at least those instances you’re completely mistaken. You’ve been willingly drinking the kool aid again. Do you really think the Koch brothers have YOUR interests at heart?

  8. I saw prices of $60 on an eighth of an ounce. I’m told that that’s around the same price as for illegal pot, in my area. So, it seems to me that it should be MUCH CHEAPER where it’s legal. People are getting gouged. It’s a weed that will grow almost anywhere.

  9. Scott Sherwood on

    No, My bad, I was in a crappy mood. Our fight has resulted in loads of POW’s for our cause, me included. Since you asked, I’m a member of my local NORML chapter, ASA and a member of the work we are doing for 2014’s initiative. Since The Compassionate Use Act, 215, passed in ’96 our state has been reduced to a mish mosh of local ordinances and DEA raiding our collectives. Since the law is not clear it invited the police to use what ever means necessary to close us and keep us closed. I say good frickin’ luck boy-o.All I can do is write to some of them and tell them we are behind them the POWs in federal custody.

    We are lucky in CA in this way, most of the regulations we have to abide by are count and city ordinances. The state law, 215 is so vague they left it up to the local politicians. Thus all the trouble. When county’s have 99 plant limits there is plenty of product out tere and the outdoor guys also have indoor set up’s as well. What I said was I can grow a pound outdoors for $200.00 including paying for trimming. I also said I saw $99 ounces being advertised in Colorado. I guess you misunderstood. We grow the shit out of it here in CA and you can walk into Any collective and sell them pounds if you have enough cards and you sign up as a supplier for the collective.

    You are right about changing the laws as we go along, nothing is set in stone. We here in CA will never stop growing it. Me included. I use cannabis both for enjoyment, to expand my mind, and for my health. I’m paralyzed on my left side so I have to take pain meds as well as cannabis. Cannabis also helps my ADHD and OCD both. So for me it is both recreational and medicinal.

    Peace be with you canna warror

  10. In the past Californians and Texans were moving here at almost an equal number. I would hate to say we need more people moving here, but, we could use more Texans to bring back the balance. Although right now we are getting balance with pure education on the issues and all that. So get up here!

  11. As far as being blind, no.

    As far as Hate? That is harsh, how about a large dose of trust issues.
    Just remember about these 40 years of fighting…
    why and who were you fighting for legalization?
    What was your concession?

    And no, this is not a left right thing, legalization wasn’t either, don’t kid yourself.
    And especially on this issue, the tea Party is not your enemy. No I am not Tea Party.

    And no, Dispensaries aren’t affected by the taxes directly, but dispensaries
    do have their own regulations to deal with about growing the product. And
    a handful of harmful business practice laws which I hope you aren’t dealing
    with out in Cali.

    And no, price and Taxes are not the same thing although Taxes do affect the price.

    I am not arguing the price because in Colorado we can grow our own. Which makes price a useless argument except for those who can’t grow for various reasons.

    The main reasons people will purchase retail is Convenience and Potency, and whatever cult inducing packaging and marketing tactics they use.

    Growing your own will not cost anywhere near $99 an ounce. The only time it will cost anything more than your first set of seeds (if you really need to purchase them) is in the winter when we need to use grow lamps. And whatever additives you wish to purchase for your plants nutrient intake.

    Thanks for ~clearing things up. I agree, that is it a good thing that legalization has taken place. The fact that we can grow our own is the key to the entire legalization.

    I don’t smoke or use it for the psychoactive effects personally but I do use it for the health benefits. And many many people have been helped including children with a wide range of diseases due to the legalization. Most of which seem to be moving directly to Colorado Springs from all over the country. Colorado Springs being the Conservative stronghold of the state… just saying.

    Positives:
    1. The tax won’t effect me at all out of pocket.
    2. The Proposal was written much better and more succinctly than the $1Billion increase proposed by our governor.
    3. It is still a way to get around TABOR, though our school buildings definitely need some upgrading.
    4. There are ways to tinker with this legislation in the future.

    Thanks for your part and your brothers and sisters efforts out in Cali, and Colorado citizens accept yours in return. Soon the rest of the nation will be thanking The 3 heavyweights in this fight Colorado, California, and Washington, just as soon as they start coming to terms with the Government brainwashing about this natural health inducing plant and begin to see all the benefits not only when it comes to health but the many other related products and “industries” that will come out of the legalization.

    The politician statement was in kind, just a little ribbing. Nothing more.
    Keep it on the level.

  12. Scott Sherwood on

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I only know about CA’s 2014 initiative. I know very little about CO’s law. Price is what this whole argument is about. Do you know how much it cost me to produce sun grown weed. $200 a pound that is with trimming cost included.. I have seen adds out of CO for $99 sun grown ounces You think 25% is going to make that big a difference in the end result? We fought for 40 years to get this legalized, regulated and taxed. now you are complaining about a little tax?

    I’m not a politician but a dispensary owner. If you prefer the way it was, change the law. Thousands of my brothers and sisters have lobbied for this change. The clock is not turning back now. Don’t pay the tax, buy your stash in the underground market, it won’t make a dam bit of difference in the long run. I may sound like a politician but you sound like an anti-government tea party-er. Your rant regarding the money already wasted on schools make that pretty clear. Your hate for all things government has blinded you to reality.

  13. And some cities are not allowing retail sales which will feed your point about MMJ. However in cities where they do allow retail sales it will be the convenience I am sure. And the fact that the consumer doesn’t need to be on a government list. Although yeah, they could get it from someone with a card, but not everyone will do that.

  14. Additionally citizens can grow their own and have up to 6 plants that are mature at one time. Good luck regulating that.

  15. Are you kidding? LOL. That’s like someone from Colorado trying to sell beach sand to Californians.

  16. Please separate your points between CA and CO so it is clear.

    I am happy that you are happy about where the money will supposedly go.

    “Built in” doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It simply means it is passed onto the consumer as a part of the increased cost of business. The 15% that is “built in” is built in between the producer and the retailer which equals a 15% markup, and then at the POS it will be marked up an additional 10%. Each one is a tax. Each one will be paid by the consumer. And this 10% is of course on top of current city, county and state taxes.

    You sound like a politician talking like that. ;)

  17. If you voted No on the tax, Marijuana would still be legal… they would just need to find the money to make all their new regulations work. Then make a more reasonable proposal next election cycle. So your NO vote would have no effect on how many people get sent to prison. ;)

  18. It does seem nice doesn’t it? If it truly does get there and stay there once it arrives, it will be a great thing.

  19. I’m not suggesting you do anything illegal. But If you do it, and you come to colorado and purchase Marijuana, it is likely going to be 1000% better than anything you get on the street. Unless you are very well connected. This is especially true with the MMJ establishments. But to purchase from them you need a medical card. You need that card even after January 1st 2014.

  20. Scott Sherwood on

    A bunch of yammering about nothing. I’m more than happy to pay 25% if I need my weed. Of course CA’s new 2014 initiative has a 10% special producers tax attached to it. and says to the local communities they can not apply a tax that is too high or interferes with the operation of the dispensary. Only sales tax you will see. the rest is built into the retail price. I’m all for those dollars flowing into education, and I have no kids. One more thing, Medical Marijuana is exempt from this tax.Only recreationl pot is to be taxed.

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  22. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it a straw man, boris. For instance, mischaracterizing anyone who supports taxing cannabis as a — what was it — “tax loving statist” who will “destroy the legal trade” …now that’s an uncharitable mischaracterization (aka, a straw man). Even Grover friggin Norquist is Ok with this tax, but it’s just too “statist” for you. Well sorry, Boris. I’d rather stop sending people to jail and pay taxes to build schools instead of wasting time indulging your tea party ideals.

  23. Pádráig O'Gáirmléadháigh on

    if you think that was a straw man argument, then you don’t know what you are blathering about. Facts are facts.

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  26. If public schools are not good enough for you, I’m sure you have the financial resources to choose alternatives. In fact, it sounds like you were home schooled yourself.

  27. “Taxes can always be scaled back at a later date when the other issues are worked out”
    Are you serious? When has the Government ever scaled back taxes? Tax and spend is their mantra. They spend faster than they can collect it. Here in Oregon they divert gas taxes slated for road repair, steal millions of dollars from the OMMP program and move it to the general fund to “use as they see fit” and they still don’t have enough money to properly fund schools and provide Oregon citizens with 24 hour police coverage.

  28. 25% tax on recreational marijuana. 0% tax on medical marijuana. 100,000 medical marijuana patients with friends who also smoke pot. Whos going to buy the heavily taxed recreational marijuana if medical marijuana is not taxed???

  29. Theres not going to be any revenue! Over 100,000 medical marijuana patients in Colorado, most of them arent even sick and they all have friends who smoke pot. How are they going to get that tax windfall from recreational marijuana if medical marijuana is not taxed and will act as a loophole? Too many people are just going to buy the medical marijuana which is not taxed or get it from some of their friends who have green cards! This means medical marijuana would have to be taxed at the same rate or at least close to the same rate as recreational marijuana for that tax windfall thats being predicted to come in.

  30. I want the program to succeed in Colorado, and I’m not sure if such a high tax will ensure that it does. If buyers return to the black market will that help or hinder other states getting it legalized? Perhaps this will be a crash test dummy of sorts that will encourage other states not to tax it so heavily when they legalize, or maybe it will be a huge revenue generator and other states will make their tax on pot higher. For once we don’t want “higher”.

  31. katylnn:

    You seem to think there are only two choices: Illegal or 25% tax. Expand your horizon. In the meantime, a skilled acupuncturist can reduce or eliminate your Crohns disease symptoms. That is a fact.

  32. I completely agree I have Crohns disease and live in New York State and although I have Dr’s who are sympathetic and look the other way, the fact remains that every time I leave my home to procure my medicine, I risk arrest, fines, jail and criminal record.etc….what I would give if my only problem wasa 25% tax!!

  33. So the government is trying to squeeze out their 25% Taxes real quick before all this is put in place…
    That’s my take.

  34. This won’t last anyways because Pharma and Tobacco are both eyeing the situation. Medical Marijuana establishments will constantly be pushed to innovate until they can’t compete with Big Pharma and their government subsidies and their tax breaks (Redundant?) But as long as the home grow is in effect we won’t be over run. They will target Washington State first… that is a monopoly waiting to happen.

  35. Basically it is a way around Tabor. Which is something that the citizens of Colorado came up with, voted for, and passed many years ago.

  36. Simply means they will use the money that was supposed to go to building schools for _________ .

  37. Pádráig O'Gáirmléadháigh on

    25% of what though. If it is cheap to start out with then 25% is no big deal. Ecuador is only $1 a gram which would be $28 an ounce plus $14 is no big deal. If you can’t afford that then you should desist.

  38. We shouldn’t have to conform to the governments plan, it should be quite the contrary. Scale back taxes at a later date? You need a fresh serving of reality dude. Did you know tollways were originally set up on a 10 year plan to help pay for road work etc? Now they put them up without pretense. Greed It doesn’t scale back and neither does the government.

  39. We have so many problems in our society, because WE ALLOW them to continue to fester. From tollways, taxes, firearm bans, mandatory government programs, and ridiculous laws and policies…. The government is pulling the old bait and switch. If we’ve learned anything in our history, it’s that everything the government gets their hands on goes to shit/fails. Why would this be any different?

  40. “a fat chunk of tax for education.”

    Yes, the statists/socialists always say “Do it for the children.” What a lie. Public education in this country is indoctrination for servitude. Most teachers are Socialists and preach the Obama party line. They also do not understand young boys and medicate them into submission. Keep your kids out of public schools and close them down.

  41. The other side of the coin is that I can buy the product legally and conveniently (starting in 2014) without the obnoxious and tedious black market way of having to know a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend that has weed. No more of the dealer telling me he’ll be there in 10 minutes when he really means two days. No more listening to the dealer’s conspiracy theories about the evils of legalization. If people are incensed about having to pay taxes, Colorado does let it residents grow their own. No more black market for me.

  42. This is awesome, i will pay 25% and smoke legaly any day over not paying tax and not smoking at all…..

  43. Exactly right Joe. Why pay high tax prices for illegal weed when the street price will be much lower. The politician leaches never learn.

  44. This is absurd. The tax loving statists will destroy the legal marijuana trade and push buyers to the illegal cartels to get a better price. Taxes are never the answer.

  45. I have absolutely no problem with paying a tax like that. I knew that was the deal when I voted to legalize. Colorado is using a fat chunk of that revenue for education. For that reason alone I’m willing to pay a 25% tax! For me, it’s a win-win situation. I get to use medicine that doesn’t make me sick with side effects and as a bonus, I’m helping my community improve the lives & education of our children, our future.

  46. I live in northern New Mexico where Cannabis cultivation is still illegal. If I drive to Durango to buy weed I’m faced with paying this exorbitant tax, which makes legal Cannabis no less expensive than black market weed. So why should I bother with the legal product?

  47. no this is true! im from kansas and we loove colorado!! we dont care about the tax cause ti going to cost the same here it will just be easy to get ! now we can just cross the border

  48. The goal now is to show people and the politicians that legalization can work and civilization as we know it won’t fall because adults can legally buy and smoke pot. Taxes can always be scaled back at a later date when the other issues are worked out, I’ve been waiting and hoping for legalization/decriminalization since the 80’s.

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