Inside Proposition BB, Which Would Let State Keep Excess Marijuana Revenues

Additional images and more below.EXPAND
Additional images and more below.
Photo by Ken Hamblin

A few months back, we posted about the setting of the September 16 marijuana tax holiday, which some ganjapreneurs see as potentially becoming the second 4/20 of 2015.

In the context of that piece, we also provided info about House Bill 15-1367, an effort by the State of Colorado to hang on to extra marijuana tax revenues, as opposed to refunding the cash to voters.

That bill has now spawned Proposition BB, the only statewide measure on this November's ballot — and the campaign on behalf of the proposal is just launched on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

First, some background.

As we've reported, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, the constitutional amendment better known as TABOR, requires, among other things, that taxes be refunded if the amount raised exceeds estimates — and that's happened thanks to the estimated $58 million generated in the first fiscal year of recreational sales.

House Bill 15-1367, on view below, includes the state's attempt to hang onto much of the dough. The measure calls for the creation of a ballot measure that, if approved, would allow the state to keep $52 million of the money.

The crowd during the Cannabis Cup on 4/20 weekend.
The crowd during the Cannabis Cup on 4/20 weekend.
Photo by Ken Hamblin

This is the approved language that will appear on ballots....

“May the state retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet for Proposition AA and use these revenues to provide forty million dollars for public school building construction and for other needs, such as law enforcement, youth programs, and marijuana education and prevention programs, instead of refunding these revenues to retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana purchasers, and other taxpayers?”

...and here's how VoteYesonBB.org pitches the proposition:

Proposition BB asks the voters of Colorado to permit the state to retain all of the marijuana tax revenue collected during the first full year of the new Proposition AA taxes. Otherwise, it would all have to be refunded to the marijuana industry and taxpayers. Voters have twice voted in favor of taxes on legal marijuana sales, and passage of Proposition BB enacts what Colorado voters have already decided.

Proposition BB allocates $40 million for public school construction and $12 million to fund marijuana education, substance abuse treatment and prevention, youth mentoring services, and Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs at the Colorado State Fair.

A graphic from the Vote Yes on Prop BB Facebook page.
Facebook

And if Proposition BB isn't approved? The plan, as noted by the site, calls for $25 million to be refunded "via a rebate averaging $8 to each full-time Colorado resident who files a 2015 state income tax return," $22.4 million "will be refunded to marijuana cultivators that paid this much in excess tax," and $16.1 million "will be refunded to retail marijuana purchasers through a temporary reduction in the retail marijuana sales tax rate."

The backers of Proposition BB are clearly counting on folks who voted to legalize limited marijuana sales in the first place to forego a modest $8 give-back to put the revenue collected to what they consider to be a better use. But consumers who feel battered by the high tax rates for recreational cannabis may be less willing to nix a tax decrease, even if it's temporary.

And September 16 could give them a preview of marijuana prices without a large tax add-on.

Here's House Bill 15-1367.



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