Late last night a group of two-dozen bipartisan state Senators introduced a bill that could effectively shut down Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws before anyone in the industry could sell so much as a nickel bag until people approve up to a 30 percent tax on their herb. Thankfully, the bill was eventually shot down as the night drew on.
The measure is somewhat similar to an idea that we told you about being floated last week that would have repealed the industry if voters fail to approve tax measures that would put a 15 percent excise tax on sales from producers to retailers and a 15 percent state sales tax on all retail cannabis transactions.
What’s different now is that Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 unties the two outcomes and puts the questions into two separate bills. The first would put the sales and excise taxes before voters outright. At the same time, a second bill would ask voters if they would suspend recreational cannabis sales until taxes areapproved.
If Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 passes, the industry can move forward. If the tax bill fails it could theoretically tie the industry up indefinitely. Lawmakers pushing for the measure say it forces pro-pot voters to basically put their money where their mouth is.
Backers of Amendment 64 call it voter extortion. “I don’t see how this is anything more than an affront to our system of government and how we do things here,” Christian Sederberg, one of the authors of Amendment 64, said according to the Denver Post.
After the proposal was floated last week, Amendment 64 campaign spokesman Mason Tvert said the representatives would be thwarting the will of the people – and thankfully a few agreed.
“That’s almost like saying to voters, ‘Vote for this, or else,'” state Sen. Cheri Jahn told Denver’s CBS4. “I don’t think you threaten voters like that. When over 55 percent of the people vote for something, I think we have to respect that.”
The repeal measure came at the last minute, too. Colorado law says bills can not pass a second and third reading in the same day and the legislature ends on Wednesday. That gave the bill just enough time to get through first and second reading Senate today, and a third reading tomorrow. That would have moved the bill to the House with just enough time for representatives to give it approval for the first two readings, with the possibility of passing on Wednesday.
But the due to late-night testimony from activists and Amendment 64 supporters, the bill’s sponsors eventually tabled the discussion. Below, check out a video from Denver’s 9News:
According to Colorado law, the marijuana industry could technically move forward without state approval. Amendment 64 says that if the state health department does begin the licensing process by October 1, “an applicant may submit an application directly to a locality … and the locality may issue an annual license to that applicant.”