Ask a Stoner

Dear Stoner: The Taxes on Recreational Pot Are Crazy!

Dear Stoner: These taxes are nuts. I just paid like $25 in tax on a quarter of bud. Colorado is going to have some shiny new schools next year, huh?
Dank Dad

Dear DD: While pot paving our preschools with gold-lined bricks and all classrooms having Google-headquarters-level technology doesn't seem far off given the tax rate on recreational pot, don't hold your breath. The 15 percent excise tax that voters agreed to when they approved Amendment 64 specifically covers wholesale sales from growers to dispensaries. But because the state has delayed the opening of grow-only facilities until at least the fall in favor of forcing dispensaries to grow their own supply, as they've had to do with medical cannabis, the taxes collected have been much lower than anticipated. In six months of recreational sales, with consumers buying more than $117 million worth of pot, only $3.98 million has been raised for schools through the 15 percent excise tax. Instead, the real moneymaker for the state has been through the 10 percent special excise tax on all recreational marijuana sales. That generated nearly $12 million between January and July 1, according to Colorado Department of Revenue records. Add to that the regular 2.9 percent sales tax, and the state has cleared nearly $15 million in six months on recreational pot alone. That money isn't earmarked for kids, though: It goes to law enforcement, treatment programs and local governments. (Denver has received about $1 million of that money so far.)

The good news is that the excise-tax figures have generally been increasing and will no doubt jump much higher once grow-only operations begin selling cannabis wholesale to dispensaries next year. But in the meantime, don't expect to see a new playground at your kid's school.

Dear Stoner: Am I okay to be smoking cannabis in Colorado if I'm not an American?
Andrew From Oz

G'day, Andrew: There are two sides to this — legal and reality. Legally, you can be deported for admitting to smoking cannabis, even if it was only once back when you were in college. It happens to Canadians at the border more often than most people realize. But state laws do protect you in Colorado, at least as much as they protect anyone. If you're here on a work visa (like most ski-bumming Aussies are in Colorado), keep in mind that you can still be fired from your job for smoking weed — and that can directly impact your work visa and your ability to continue to enjoy Colorado's fine scenery and greenery.