The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 continues to be a target more than a year before the November 2012 election for which it's aiming. First, rival organization Legalize2012 objected to any association with the terms "legalization" and "similar to alcohol." Now, proponent Brian Vicente says gadfly Douglas Bruce is complaining that the word "tax" isn't prominent enough in the ballot title on petition forms -- and even wants it capitalized.
"Tax" actually appears twice in the ballot title. We've put it in bold to make spotting the references easier:
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana; permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local governments to regulate or pohibit such facilities; requiring the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and requiring the general assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp?
Moreover, Vicente, who's part of a coalition backing the initiative, sees the taxation of marijuana for adult recreational use as one of the measure's prime selling points.
"Throughout our campaign, we'll be highlighting the substantial tax revenue that will be coming in through the passage of this law," Vicente says. "We also predict there will be a large amount of job growth as well -- and that, along with state and local sales taxes and excise tax, ultimately will bring in tens of millions to the state."
This money is beyond the reach of tax collectors at present, Vicente emphasizes: "Essentially, money from Coloradans who use marijuana recreationally, and there are many adults who do, is going into the hands of the underground market and, in some cases, cartels and gangsters. That's why we believe our provision is a sensible change that would bring the market above-ground -- put the substance behind the counters and allow the state to levy a reasonable tax that would benefit the citizens who live here," especially during a period of acute revenue shortfalls and budgetary crisis.
Nonetheless, Vicente believes Bruce's complaint is "a little over the top." Bruce argues that "the word 'tax' appear in capital letters in the first part of the title," Vicente notes, "and we're fine with the title it's been given. It does mention taxes, and we feel we've fully complied with TABOR" -- the Tax Payers Bill of Rights, which remains Bruce's primary claim to fame despite his April indictment for tax-evasion.
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The issue is scheduled for debate before the Colorado Title Board at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. In the meantime, the petition drive for the act is underway, with a goal of gathering the 86,000 signatures necessary to put the measure on the 2012 ballot, and Vicente says, "it's going really well. We've been deluged by volunteers looking to help, and we also have paid signature gatherers on the ground at places like King Soopers and festivals around the state. And they've been getting a ton of positive feedback from citizens they approach on this issue. I think the campaign has kicked off well, and if we keep this pace up, we shouldn't have a problem getting the required signatures."
As for the tax issue, Vicente stresses that "we're happy to have that discussion" whether "tax" winds up in capital letters or not.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: No punishment for possession under Michelle LaMay's new ballot proposal."