Prop. AA, the marijuana taxation measure, passes 65 percent to 35 percent

DENVER - Proposition AA, the measure to set tax rates for the recreational marijuana industry in Colorado, has passed 65 percent to 35 percent.

Voters have approved a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana when it is sold wholesale from a cultivation facility and a 10 percent sales tax on retail marijuana sold to individual consumers.

The taxes are estimated to bring in $70 million a year.

Those taxes are in addition to the existing 2.9 percent state sales tax and does not include any taxes created and approved within a local municipality.

The first $40 million raised by the excise tax each year would be earmarked for public school construction. 

Excess money from the excise tax and most of the sales tax money would be dedicated to the regulation and enforcement of the rules created for recreational marijuana in light of Amendment 64's approval by voters last year.

Fifteen percent of the sales tax revenue would be sent to the cities and counties where retail marijuana purchases occur.

Voter approval of the measure also meant that the legislature has been granted permission to adjust the excise and sales taxes in the future, with the requirement that they both cannot exceed 15 percent.

Sales of recreational marijuana become legal in Colorado on Jan. 1.

Opponents of the taxes argued that marijuana should be taxed like beer, which has a lower tax rate. Supporters, including pot legalization advocates, called the measure an opportunity to show the marijuana industry can be beneficial.

"The passage of Proposition AA means Colorado will have a strong and well-funded regulatory system, along with funding for education, prevention, treatment, and other safety issues that may arise," said Mike Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group (MMIG). "It is rare for an industry to lead and fund a campaign to tax itself, but MMIG is comprised of business owners who understand that Proposition AA is a reasonable and responsible way forward.  Colorado's medical marijuana program has improved public safety, and Proposition AA will help continue this progress."
 

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