FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Andrea Merida, Denver Greens co-chair
303-550-0677 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DENVER GREENS ENCOURAGE NO VOTES ON MARIJUANA TAX PROPOSALS
As a reference point for the Green Party registered voters of Denver county, the voting members of the Denver Greens have analyzed the proposed new taxes on the November 5, 2013, ballot. In short, we recommend voting no on both measures.
The claim of proponents of Proposition AA is that passage would fulfill the wishes of the voters as represented in Amendment 64, now Article 18, Section 16 of the Constitution of the State of Colorado, which states:
“…the people of the state of Colorado find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.”
Current beer taxes are 8 cents per gallon plus 8 percent sales tax.
Proposition AA would raise excise (wholesale) tax to 15% and would allow the state legislature to impose at least a 10% sales tax but as much as 15%. Simple math shows a drastic disparity of taxation levied on recreational marijuana sales and consumption, which we do not believe is a “manner similar to alcohol.”
One of the Green Party’s 10 Key Values is grassroots democracy, and “(e)very human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another.” Therefore, we encourage registered Green Party voters and our allies to VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION AA, because the people have spoken clearly on how we expect marijuana to be taxed and regulated. We do not believe that a tax increase of 30%, when beer is only at 16%, is a demonstration of “similar.”
Even though we recognize that the first $40 million in excise taxes will go to public school construction, we encourage the state legislature to go back to the drawing board and produce another referred measure for next year’s ballot that is more in keeping with the spirit and letter of the people’s constitutional expressed wishes.
Denver’s Referred Question 2A
This question, upon passage, would authorize the Denver City Council to immediately apply a tax of 3.5% on all recreational marijuana sales but also gives authorization to apply an additional tax up to a total of 15% as the council sees fit.
The purpose of the tax, according to the drafters of the referred question, is to pay for:
- direct and indirect expenses related to licensing and regulation of the retail marijuana industry
- enforcement of marijuana laws in general
- educational and health programs on the “negative consequences” of using marijuana or related products
- programs to keep young people under 21 from using or buying
- to pay the expenses of operating and upkeeping the city and its facilities
Should recreational marijuana users contribute to the general well-being of the city in which they live? Of course they should, and that should include paying sales taxes. But just as in the case of Proposition AA, we do not believe that an additional tax of up to 18.5% is a legitimate expression of the people’s wishes in the Constitution, when Denver’s current tax code specifies a 4% tax on liquor sales.
The Green Party’s second key value calls out the priority for Greens to confront barriers which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law, especially regarding class oppression. If we are to extrapolate implications from commonly-available data sources on national marijuana usage statistics, we can see that most of Denver’s recreational marijuana users are young and working class. Therefore, it seems evident to the Denver Greens that this tax hike would unfairly target our young people that are disproportionately unemployed and already burdened by the millstone of student loan debt. We believe that taxing recreational marijuana at 4%, like alcohol, is also in keeping with the voters’ wishes as spelled out in the state constitution.
Additionally, the city government’s list of proposed projects to be funded by 2A seem specious, such as a new attorney to process increase marijuana prosecutions and 26 new police officers to handle more retail marijuana related investigations. We do interpret requests such as these as a signal that the mayor’s office intends to further stigmatize recreational marijuana users, which is counter to the intent of Amendment 64.
In light of these factors, we encourage Denver county’s registered Greens and our allies to VOTE NO ON REFERRED QUESTION 2A.