Marijuana: Will "no" vote on pot taxes prompt federal crackdown?

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A week or two back, Corry says the folks behind No on Prop AA, whose online home is, directly contacted a wide variety of people in favor of the measure about a possible debate. Those targeted included politicians (Senator Pat Steadman, representatives Dan Pabon and Jonathan Singer, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers) and marijuana scene figures (Brian Vicente, Christian Sederberg, Sean Coleman, Norton Arbelaez). But Corry says the only reply he received was from the Medical Marijuana Industry Group's Mike Elliott, who said "no."

"If push comes to shove and nobody will debate, we have entertained the idea of debating an empty chair or finding somebody to express their position on things," says Corry, who notes that Casselman's is holding open an October 3 date for a Prop AA-oriented event. "But we'd rather not. This issue is critical for Colorado for years to come. If this tax passes, we're never going to get rid of it. It's locked in forever, and it's only going to increase -- and all Coloradans, whether they were for or against Amendment 64, deserve a debate about the issue. They should be able to hear both sides before they make their decision" at the ballot box in November.

One concern among those who favor Proposition AA, which would establish a 15 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales and a 10 percent sales tax that could be increased to 15 percent if necessary, involves the federal government. Late last month, the Justice Department announced that it wouldn't sue to stop Amendment 64 from going into effect -- but in a memo to U.S. Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General James Cole reserved the right for the federal government to intervene if states fall short when it comes to regulating pot.

Could the feds interpret a rejection of Proposition AA as an indication Colorado is failing in this regard? Corry doesn't think so.

"The August 29 Cole memo says nothing about taxes," he says. "Now, obviously, these taxes were in the works well before August 29, and if the federal government has a position on Prop AA, it has every right to state its position clearly. But it hasn't endorsed Proposition AA -- and we argue that if it passes, the feds are more likely to come in that if it doesn't."

How so?

Continue for more of our interview with Rob Corry about Proposition AA.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts