Colorado legislature votes to tax recreational marijuana

Thu May 9, 2013 12:58am EDT
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By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - The Colorado legislature passed and sent to the governor on Wednesday a bill to establish what would be the first tax ever collected on commercial sales of marijuana purchased for recreational use in the United States.

The measure, which would impose a 15 percent excise tax plus a 10 percent statewide sales tax on retail pot purchases, was approved as part of a package of measures to implement Colorado's landmark marijuana legalization law enacted by voters last November.

Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper was expected to sign the legislation.

Supporters of the measures hailed the work of lawmakers in crafting legislation to carry out the will of the voters.

"The passage of these bills marks a major milestone toward the creation of the world's first legal, regulated, and taxed marijuana market for adults," said Christian Sederberg, author of the ballot question that voters approved.

The proposed taxes, seen as necessary to support the larger regulatory framework of the system, are still subject to a ballot referendum under a Colorado law requiring all new taxes be approved directly by voters.

A survey commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project, and conducted last month by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, found that 77 percent of the 900 registered Colorado voters polled favored the proposed taxes.

In November, voters passed a constitutional amendment making Colorado one of just two states - the other was Washington - legalizing possession, cultivation and use of marijuana by adults for recreational purposes for the first time.   Continued...

A participant rolls a marijuana filled blunt at the 4/20 marijuana holiday in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking