Colorado Officials to Consider Marijuana Taxes of Up to 30 Percent

This week Colorado officials will consider a proposal to require marijuana excise and sales taxes of up to 30 percent combined, The New York Times reports. A task force that included health officials and representatives of the state’s marijuana industry recommended the state set taxes high enough to pay for administering the new law, but not high enough to drive customers to the black market.

In March, the task force issued recommendations on how to regulate marijuana, now that recreational use of the drug has been legalized. The report included 58 recommendations, including the need for a marijuana product sales tax initiative on the November ballot. The group advised that during the first year of licensing, “only entities with valid medical marijuana licenses should be able to obtain licenses to grow, process and sell adult-use cannabis.”

“We should see a financial benefit as a state that can help pay for enforcement and other fundamental issues,” Christian Sederberg, a lawyer on the task force whose firm helped draft the law that legalized recreational marijuana, told the newspaper. “The other side is that if you tax something too high, then you simply crowd out the regulated market. We’re confident we’ll find the right balance.”

The proposal calls for using the first $40 million collected from a 15 percent excise tax to build public schools. A separate 15 percent sales tax on marijuana would be distributed to local governments, and would be used for enforcement of the marijuana law. A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Thursday. If the proposal is approved, it will require voter approval.