Bill imposing recreational marijuana taxation up to 30 percent scheduled for first hearing Thursday

DENVER - On Thursday, the House Finance Committee is scheduled to consider a measure that asks voters to approve sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana.

"Subject to voter approval at the statewide election in November 2013, the bill imposes a sales tax and an excise tax on the sale of retail marijuana, which was legalized by section 16 of article XVIII of the state constitution," says House Bill 13-1318.

The bill goes on to say that it creates a 15 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax, for a total of 30 percent. That tax would be effective on January 1, 2014 and is in addition to the existing 2.9 percent state sales tax and any tax imposed by a local government.

The bill allows, however, for the legislature to reduce the rate of the marijuana sales tax or excise tax after that date, it if another bill is passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

Of the funds collected under the marijuana sales tax, the bill stipulates 10 percent will be distributed to each local government in the state that has one or more marijuana retail stores in an amount proportional to the number of stores it has and the amount of the tax collected there. The rest of the sales tax money would be deposited in a marijuana cash fund and "appropriated as directed by the general assembly."

The first $40 million of the excise tax money collected would be put into the public school capital construction assistance fund, as required by Amendment 64. Anything more would also be deposited into the marijuana cash fund.

In Colorado, the tobacco tax rate is 4.2 cents per cigarette or 40 percent of the manufacturer's price on other tobacco products.

HB 13-1318 was introduced to the Colorado House on April 18. It is sponsored by Jonathan Singer, a Democrat from Longmont.

After being introduced, it was assigned to the House Finance Committee, where it is scheduled for a hearing on April 25.

Read House Bill 13-1318: http://www.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2013A/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/31D153749B49700187257B2F00580E15?Open&file=1318_01.pdf

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