Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Denver Councilman Linkhart seeks additional 6 percent sales tax on medical marijuana - The Denver Post

Denver Councilman Linkhart seeks additional 6 percent sales tax on medical marijuana - The Denver Post

Denver City Councilman Doug Linkhart has proposed a ballot measure that would place an additional 6 percent sales tax on medical marijuana sold in the city to pay for youth programming.

He wants his colleagues on the council to refer the issue to the voters on the November ballot and will bring the matter before the council's safety committee, which he chairs, on July 21.

Other council members expressed interest but also said they had some reservations about taxing the burgeoning medical-marijuana industry, which also is facing new state regulations. They also questioned the timing of creating new programs when the city is facing ongoing budget woes and may have to cut core services.

The new tax would raise an estimated $4.24 million annually, based on current sales-tax revenues generated by medical-marijuana sales in the city. Linkhart said the new tax would sunset after 10 years. He also would exempt those who are indigent from paying the new tax.

"Most people I talk to support it and think it will be a slam dunk," said Linkhart, who added that he believes spending on youth programs now will reduce costs elsewhere in the future by ensuring troubled teens become productive citizens.

Rob Corry, attorney for several medical-marijuana dispensaries and their patients, said Linkhart has his support as long as indigent patients don't have to pay the extra tax.

"Through taxation comes legitimacy, and this would further legitimize our industry," Corry said.

The 6 percent tax would be on top of the current 7.72 percent in sales taxes collected in Denver to fund items ranging from the city's preschool program to Invesco Field, RTD and cultural facilities.

"The connection between medical marijuana and youth programs is that these are kids that are most vulnerable to using drugs and getting into other problems," Link hart said. "I want to protect them from those issues."

Linkhart said the spending would be targeted toward those from the ages of 13 to 15. The tax would raise $3 million annually for after- school, recreation and summer programs, including waiving admission fees for those under 18 to use city recreation centers.

Another $1 million would be generated annually for crime prevention, including a new juvenile assessment center for minor offenders and youth with mental health, substance abuse and family or school-related problems.

A new oversight board would oversee the funding and monitor outcomes.

"Lot of question marks"Many of Linkhart's colleagues on the council were taking a wait-and-see approach.

"I guess on its face, having a moderate tax on medical marijuana that would fund youth programs would be a good thing, but I have questions," Councilman Chris Nevitt said.

"It's a little hard to contemplate generating new revenue for a new program when we're in a situation where we're looking at potentially cutting core city services and laying off city employees," Nevitt said.

He added that he worries about how dispensaries will handle the new tax at a time when the state is imposing new regulations.

"There are still a lot of question marks about how the state licensing regime and regulatory regime is going to work, and what that is going to cost this brand-new industry," Nevitt said.

Councilwoman Carol Boigon said that once new state regulations take full effect, she suspects far fewer people will be using medical marijuana recreationally.

She said if that occurs, she'll be leery of taxing something that the remaining patients consider a vital medical need.

Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz said she told Linkhart she couldn't support his plan.

"At a time when we face a $100 million budget deficit, an expansion of programs is not on the top of my priority list," she said.

Fruita has similar tax

If seven of the 13 council members supported Link hart's proposal, the measure would be headed toward the November ballot. If Mayor John Hickenlooper vetoed that action, the support of nine council members would be required.

"A plan to put any tax proposal on the ballot should include a wide range of community members who can help think through the issue," said Hickenlooper, who did not return telephone calls seeking comment but issued a prepared statement. "We understand Councilman Linkhart is engaged in that process. We support his effort to start a community review of his idea."

Thus far, voters in one other Colorado city have approved an extra tax on medical marijuana. In April, 60 percent of the voters in Fruita, which at that time had no actual medical-marijuana dispensaries, approved an extra 5 percent sales tax.

Oakland, Calif., voters approved a similar tax on medical marijuana last summer.

The Denver council would have to act by Aug. 16 to get the measure on the November ballot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First, let me say that I do not use marijuana, nor does anyone I know use marijuana for medicinal or "recreational" use.

To add 6% sales tax on top of 7.72% sales tax on medical marijuana is just plain mean. The people who qualify for medical marijuana are sick with cancer or have some grave disease. Why would we as a humane society want to add this tax on this drug? Is he proposing an additional 6% tax on all prescription drugs?

Why not legalize marijuana and then add the tax to those who buy it strictly for recreational use? But, then does that mean that we would add 6% tax to cigarettes (I don't smoke) and liquor? (I do drink occasionally.) Well then, what about greasy, fast-food hamburgers and pizza? This is such a slippery slope!

Have some compassion for your fellow human beings who are sick and need something to ease their symptoms. Don't tax these people to death. PM