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El Paso County to bogart pot taxes

Proposition AA on the November ballot passed overwhelmingly statewide: 65 percent in favor to 35 percent opposed. The measure set a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales in areas that allow retail sales. The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners voted to ban retail sales within unincorporated areas, but commissioners want a share of the tax revenue the other counties earn.Amendment 64, which passed in 2012 allowing personal use of marijuana under Colorado law, required an additional ballot measure setting the tax rate. The passing of Proposition AA did not change the time line for opening recreational retail stores or the state level legalization of personal possession and use. The first retail marijuana establishments are expected to open in January.ìWe do not have any plans at this time to opt in for any sales,î said Amy Lathen, El Paso County commissioner. ìEven though we opted out of allowing sales in the county, we will still have enforcement, employment, workforce, public health and sheriff costs that will be heavily impacted by the increased use of marijuana in our county, even if purchased elsewhere.î El Paso County officials will ask the state to consider distributing any tax revenue based on impacts, not just whether they opted in for sales, she said.Rep. Jonathan Singer of Boulder, Colo., told Howard Singer of Channel 4 KCNC in Denver on Oct. 28, ìTo say this late in the game ‘well, we want tax money for something we’re not willing to tax or regulate in our own districtí is a little hypocritical.î Singer sponsored the house bill that became Proposition AA.The decrease in business taxes to the county also needs to be offset by those benefiting from sales, she said. ìThe No. 1 concern among primary employers who were considering moving here was workforce. What profession out there wants people to work with them when they’re feeling at one with the furniture?îIn April 2014, the Department of Revenue, cities and counties will meet to discuss how revenue will be distributed among the counties and cities. Lathen said area governments and businesses should not count on tax revenues or retail sale profits. ìIf the administration changes at the federal level, and the feds come in to enforce existing federal laws; boy, I would not want to be a dispensary owner or someone counting on this revenue,î she said.

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