Yesterday, in Denver, as part of a kickoff for a campaign opposing additional taxes on marijuana, hundreds of people received a free joint from The "No On Proposition AA" campaign.
According to the Proposition AA press release,
“Proposition AA, which calls for an excise tax of 15% on wholesale marijuana, and a 15% sales tax on retail sales and transfers of marijuana. These taxes are in addition to 2.9% local sales tax and 7.62% sales tax in Denver. Adding to the tax burden, Denver is proposing an extreme 15% local sales tax. In Denver alone, the tax rate has the potential to become 52.62%”.
“These tax increases will decimate small and medium sized marijuana businesses. Coloradans, many who are used to lower costs influenced by the medical marijuana industry, will not or can not pay these exorbitant taxes and will, instead, go back to purchasing marijuana on the black market, which will proliferate under these extreme tax conditions. The goal of marijuana legalization was to eliminate the black market, not send people rushing back to it”.
“Marijuana legalization, if regulated properly, will provide for a new frontier in economic growth. However, through over regulation and over taxation, the fledgling industry risks going back into the hands of the black market, undoing decades of work in righting failed and expensive drug war policies”.
The crowd was large, but peaceful, at the Denver Civic Center and police watched from a distance as the group distributed the joints to adults with identification over the age of 21, which is legal in Colorado.
"It is legal to hand out marijuana to people in Colorado, and it is legal to do it without paying a penny in taxes!" shouted Rob Corry (attorney and marijuana advocate), who helped organize the event and hopes to defeat Proposition AA.
Corry, who helped draft Amendment 64, which legalized the sale of recreational pot to adults, called it the biggest tax increase in state history and said the state did a "bait and switch" by adding what he called excessive taxes.
"It's going to defeat the intent of Amendment 64," he said to the crowd. "What's going to happen is it is going to go back into the black market and gray market, which isn't taxed."
According to the Denver Post, "The free marijuana joints handout is the worst type of political stunt for the campaign," said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, sponsor of the legislation. "We are over here feverishly working on public safety and robust regulations to prevent marijuana from getting into the hands of the wrong people."
Diane Carlson of Smart Colorado, the organization that has worked for tougher regulations around Amendment 64, said she was appalled by the giveaway.
600 joints had been rolled prior to the event and more were rolled at the event after the initial 600 quickly ran out.
The first $40 million collected will go to school construction. The rest will be split between local governments and the state general fund for enforcement and regulation. Some research suggests the state of Colorado could see more than $130 million in revenue annually.