Breckenridge backs own pot tax ballot question
October 15, 2011
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Despite concerns about the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana, the Breckenridge Town Council approved a resolution Tuesday officially supporting a ballot question proposing a 5 percent tax on the sale of the drug.
The excise tax revenue is intended to help the town recoup costs associated with administration and enforcement of medical marijuana policies.
But town leaders were hesitant in passing the resolution, given the federal government’s changing stance on medical marijuana dispensaries and recent crackdowns on pot sales in California, which are still illegal nationally.
“It just doesn’t feel right to me that we know that’s going on out there and here we are pressing forward on a ballot question to increase tax on something that they’re actively (trying to) make go away in other jurisdictions,” Councilman Mike Dudick said at a Town Council meeting Tuesday.
Town officials and the town attorney said the language in town ordinances and Colorado’s stringent policies and regulations on the sale, growth and distribution of medical marijuana would likely protect the town from repercussions from the federal government.
“If something were to happen in Colorado, we’d suspend any enforcement until we got a clearer picture of what it is,” Breckenridge manager Tim Gagen told council members at the meeting. “Until the feds do something, the state constitution has this legalized.”
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Federal prosecutors promised an aggressive move against California pot dispensaries last week that was to include shutting down retail stores and grow operations and even requiring landlords to evict tenants selling marijuana or face criminal charges.
Federal attorneys for the state have not indicated whether the crackdown on medical marijuana could come to Colorado.
With staff assurances, town leaders passed the resolution, urging voters to approve the 5 percent excise tax, which is expected to bring in approximately $50,000 to $75,000 the first year after implementation.
The money will be used to “create a fund designated to offset the direct costs of related medical marijuana center legal interpretations and the direct costs of legal time,” according to the resolution.
Additional funds will be used to support the training, enforcement and administration of laws and regulations related to medical marijuana centers.
Breckenridge currently has seven active medical marijuana centers. Pot shop owners in the town have expressed opposition to the ballot measure, saying it is both unfair – because other types of medicine are not taxed – and gives illegal medical marijuana dealers an economic advantage.