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OfflineSpaceMonkey
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Colo. Pot Legalization Could Be Short-Lived
    #667866 - 04/27/13 04:14 PM (3 years, 7 months ago)

Denver -- Recreational marijuana isn’t officially legal yet in Colorado, but there’s already talk of making it illegal again. A proposal under discussion in the state legislature would place a repeal measure on the November ballot. The repeal would take effect only if voters refused to approve a second measure to fund state costs associated with marijuana regulation.

No repeal bill has been introduced, but that didn’t stop advocates on both sides of the issue from holding back-to-back press conferences Friday at the state capitol.

Mason Tvert, who led the successful legalization campaign, accused foes of trying to circumvent the will of Coloradans. Amendment 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, won passage in November with 55 percent of the vote.

“Placing such a measure on the ballot would amount to extortion of the voters,” Mr. Tvert said. “Voters will be told that they must vote for whatever taxes the legislators choose in order to prevent the repeal of the constitutional amendment they approved last November.”

Diane Carlson of Smart Colorado said voters should be given the option of repealing Amendment 64 in order to avoid budget cuts to other spending priorities, such as K-12 education.

“This just gives the option for voters that if there is not the money to cover the costs, then Amendment 64 should not be implemented,” Mr. Carlson said. “Are we going to shift money from our schools to fund marijuana? That is not what we were promised in the fall.”

The debate comes as the state legislature grapples with a series of unknowns related to pot legalization, namely the cost of implementing the measure and the amount of revenue that would be generated by marijuana taxes.

The legislature is considering a 15 percent excise tax and 15 percent special sales tax on marijuana, but a study released Wednesday by the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University said that the taxes may not be enough to cover the costs associated with legalization.

Marijuana proponents are pushing for a 10 percent sales tax, arguing that anything higher could drive buyers back into the black market.

Amendment 64 dedicates the first $40 million from the excise tax to school construction, a provision that bolstered its popularity with voters, but the CSU report said the excise tax will likely generate only about half that in fiscal 2014.

A repeal amendment would require the support of two-thirds of the state legislature in order to qualify for the ballot. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but federal officials have not yet said whether they will allow states to proceed with recreational pot legalization as they have done with medical marijuana.

Source: Washington Times (DC)
Author: Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times
Published: April 26, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Washington Times, LLC
Website: http://www.washtimes.com/
Contact: letters@washingtontimes.com
URL: http://drugsense.org/url/ZpzylwLW

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