It’s just a proposal, but it’s an ugly, ugly proposal to hear. Colorado state lawmakers last Friday began kicking around an idea that could repeal Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized possession and cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis as well as called for the creation of a recreational cannabis industry.
Basically, the argument hinges on the proposed taxes on recreational cannabis sales and state laws that require tax-related issues to be put before voters for approval.
It’s a drastic, knee-jerk reaction but some lawmakers are now talking about tying a repeal of Amendment 64 to upcoming bills regarding marijuana taxes.
Those bills would then go before voters in an upcoming election. Basically, if voters don’t approve a proposed 30 percent tax then Amendment 64 would be repealed.
(Read the draft language of the repeal measure here)
Lawmakers like Larry Crowder from Alamosa, Colo. point to part of the bill that allocated $40 million in excise tax towards state school funds and argue that is the entire reason the bill passed (never mind that cultivation of six plants and possession of up to an ounce were legalized). “So if there’s no money, we shouldn’t have marijuana,” Crowder told Denver’s CBS 4.
Proponents of Amendment 64 say lawmakers would be bordering on criminal activity if the suggestion is adopted as an amendment. They point out that the bill gained 55 percent of the vote in November – more than voted for President Obama.
Mason Tvert, who fronted the campaign for Amendment 64 last year and is now spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project said a repeal clause would amount to extortion of the voters. “They’re being told they must approve a higher tax level proposed by legislators or otherwise the constitutional amendment they adopted in November would be repealed.”
Predictably, opponents of marijuana legalization like SMART Colorado think the proposal is a brilliant idea:
“Amendment 64 backers sold the ballot issue to Colorado voters as a way to pay for state priorities like education but increasingly it’s looking like it could be a net drain on the state budget,” SMART Colorado said in a prepared statement. “Amendment 64 raised the possibility of new taxes on marijuana but didn’t enact them. If voters don’t now approve new taxes on marijuana, Colorado’s budget will take a major hit and Amendment 64 will have exactly the opposite effect from what was promised to voters.”
Right now, though, the bill is only being discussed by a handful of legislators. It seems the majority would respect the will of Colorado voters.
“That’s almost like saying to voters, ‘Vote for this, or else,'” state Sen. Cheri Jahn told 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.”