SWEET SANITY: Colorado Becomes First State In The Union To Levy Taxes On Recreational Marijuana Sales


NPR: Colorado is set to become the first U.S. state to regulate and tax sales of recreational marijuana, after lawmakers approved several bills that set business standards and rules. Legislators expect enforcement of the rules to be paid for by two taxes on marijuana — a 15 percent excise tax, and a 10 percent sales tax. Other measures included in the package set limits on how much marijuana visitors to Colorado can buy (a quarter of an ounce), as well as a limit on how many cannabis plants a private citizen can grow (six). Gov. John Hickenlooper has indicated he will sign the legislation, according to Colorado voters first approved the legalization of pot for recreational use by people over age 21 in a ballot initiative last November. MORE

DENVER POST: Those who supported marijuana legalization and those who opposed it sent the same message to Colorado voters on Thursday: Everyone backs the pot tax. Speaking separately, people from marijuana advocates to an organizer of a group concerned about marijuana legalization to the state’s pot-skeptical governor urged voters to approve a tax on recreational marijuana sales that will be on November’s ballot. The tax plan was put there by Colorado lawmakers as a way to pay for regulations on recreational marijuana stores. Both the tax proposal and the regulations were approved on the legislature’s final day Wednesday. “I’ll certainly promote the marijuana question,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said. “We need to make sure we have the resources to have a good regulatory framework to manage this.” MORE

NEW YORKER: On July 20, 2012, Governor John Hickenlooper, of Colorado, was attending a friend’s seventieth-birthday party in Colorado Springs when he learned about a shooting in a suburb east of Denver. At 12:30 A.M., at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, a young man wearing black body armor walked into the local première of “The Dark Knight Rises” and sprayed the audience with bullets; twelve people were killed and fifty-eight were injured. At eight-thirty the following morning, Hickenlooper was ushered into a crime-scene trailer in the theatre’s parking lot, where officers showed him a video that they had taken inside shortly after the incident. A light on top of a handheld camera illuminated a scene of carnage. Bodies and popcorn and empty ammunition shells were strewn about the floor; pocketbooks and other personal belongings had been left behind in the rush to escape. “They were still in the process of removing the people who were dead,” Hickenlooper told me. “I mean, even the most hardened professionals were in shock. The scale and the madness of it—shooting seventy people.” MORE

WASHINGTON POST: It hasn’t gotten the national attention it deserves, but a sweeping measure to overhaul elections in Colorado is swiftly moving towards passage — one that could function as a model for other voting reformers in other states, and perhaps even nationally. The Colorado measure will represent a big step forward, because it sticks to the most fundamental principle that most reformers think should guide our efforts to fix voting: That voting should be made easier for as many people as possible. This, at a time when conservative groups are working to restrict voting in the name of “voter fraud.” As Reid Wilson recently put it, the Colorado measure is “the Democratic comeback to voter ID.” Reform advocates who have been briefed on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s plans tell me they expect him to sign the legislation tomorrow. The measure, which has cleared both houses in Colorado, contains a number of key provisions. It requires a ballot to be mailed to every registered voter; voters choose how to vote, whether by mail or dropping off the ballot, or even in person, early or on election day. It lengthens the early voting period and shortens the time required for state residency in order to qualify to vote. It expands voter registration through Election Day. And it allows people to vote at any precinct within their county. MORE