Broomfield Moves Toward Vote Over Marijuana Businesses

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Broomfield could allow marijuana businesses as early as 2021 if the Broomfield City Council and local voters approve a recreational marijuana sales tax later this year.

Commercial marijuana dispensaries and cultivations have been prohibited in Broomfield since recreational marijuana sales were legalized across the state in 2014, but Broomfield's self-imposed ban on pot businesses expires on February 1 of next year, and the majority of councilmembers says they would like to see that ban end.

During a July 14 meeting, the council unanimously approved the first reading of a proposed initiative that would create marijuana sales and cultivation excise taxes. If the proposal successfully moves through two more hearings, it will be put on the November 2020 ballot in Broomfield. (Under the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights, any new tax — state or local — must be approved by voters.)

The current proposal would place a 4 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales in Broomfield, with the ability to raise it as high as 10 percent; there would also be a 5 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales and transfers. Revenue raised through the taxes would go to general funding, with a priority placed on Broomfield's Health and Human Services Department, according to Assistant City and County Attorney Courtney Thiemann. The city estimates that five dispensaries would generate around $2.2 million in sales tax revenue during the first year, and predicts that excise tax revenue would hit around $183,000 during the same period.

While there was unanimous support for putting the tax measure on the ballot, Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans pushed for more public input on allowing marijuana businesses in Broomfield, asking council to include a question as to whether the retail pot ban should be extended. That motion failed, 6-3.

"I am very, very concerned about public input as to whether or not recreational marijuana sales should currently be allowed," she said, adding that the council "has not taken any public comment at all on the question."

Broomfield Mayor Pro Tempore Guyleen Castriotta pushed back on Law-Evans's assertion, saying that the city has been receiving comments via email while publicly announcing council meetings on the issue. She also noted that the marijuana business ban had been passed by a previous city council without going to voters for their approval.

The second council vote and a public hearing on the potential ballot question will be held Tuesday, July 28.

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