Colorado lawmakers to discuss reduced spending plan for marijuana revenue

DENVER - Colorado lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee will discuss how to spend some of the revenue from recreational marijuana taxes, but the governor is warning they may have less than first expected.

In mid-February, Governor John Hickenlooper released a budget proposal outlining his plans for spending the money. It predicted more than $134 million would be raised by taxes and fees for the fiscal year beginning in July.

The plan called for that money to be spent on youth marijuana use prevention, substance abuse treatment, public health, regulatory oversight and law enforcement.

However, Hickenlooper is now lowering those expectations by about $20 million. The biggest single proposed reduction is $8 million for substance abuse programs.

He has also changed his request to account for a request by state police chiefs to spend more on training police officers to spot drug-impaired drivers.

Proposition AA, which was approved by 65 percent of voters in Nov. 2013, instituted a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale weed and a 10 percent sales tax on retail sales.

$40 million in marijuana tax revenue from the excise tax was already earmarked for school construction, as approved by voters as part of Amendment 64. The money will benefit the Building Excellent Schools Today grant program, called "BEST."

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