Endorsement: Vote yes on Amendment AA | AspenTimes.com

Endorsement: Vote yes on Amendment AA

We want to encourage all of our readers who are eligible to vote in the Nov. 5 election to support a statewide proposition, Amendment AA, which seeks to tax recreational retail marijuana sales to provide revenue for school construction, pot-industry regulation and drug education.

As critics have pointed out, the tax rates are high: a 15 percent excise tax and a 10 percent sales tax, above and beyond the state and local sales taxes that already are levied on standard retail transactions. Opponents of the new tax plan say Amendment AA's effect would be to drive marijuana buyers back to underground dealers who are unregulated, creating a difficult start for those involved in recreational pot sales and cultivation.

That could be the case, but The Aspen Times always has been in favor of efforts to legalize recreational marijuana sales and to tax the industry as a way of funding critical programs that benefit Coloradans. There are those who still would look to the underground market in order to save a few dollars, but we doubt that the tax would have an overall crippling impact on commercial activity. We believe the vast majority of shoppers in Aspen are generally well-to-do and will see the recreational shops as a convenience that will offset any concern about higher taxes.

Every new industry faces difficulties. Over time, markets are tested and the retailers who run efficient operations are left to profit while others fall by the wayside. That will be the case for the state's recreational pot retail operators, whose first licensees will be allowed to open their doors beginning Jan. 1.

Amendment 64, which overwhelmingly passed voters' muster a year ago and forces the state to regulate marijuana like alcohol, was supported largely on the grounds that marijuana would be taxed to benefit voters. We find Amendment AA in keeping with the spirit of Amendment 64 and strongly urge your vote in favor of it.