Buzzkill: Coloradans Pass Tax on Marijuana

November 2013

Pull out those pocketbooks, potheads. Your legal buzz next year is going to get expensive.

Colorado voters last night overwhelmingly approved sweeping taxes on recreational marijuana that will lump a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales and another 10 percent tax on retail sales. Overall, estimates have shown the state will generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue through the taxes next year, which would go toward public school construction and regulating marijuana in the state.

The tax plan never seemed to be in peril in the months leading up to the election. Support for the tax had been a bipartisan effort: Both Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and Republican attorney general John Suthers supported the tax proposal.

Once implemented, the price of legal weed will see a significant increase. For example, a marijuana retailer that would have generally sold an ounce of marijuana for $200 would see the price jump to $250 with the excise and special sales taxes added in. That doesn’t include other state and local taxes. (A separate marijuana tax issue that passed in Denver last night will put a 3.5 percent sales tax on legal pot, and could jump to as high as 15 percent. That's in addition to the city's current 7.62 percent sales tax.) 

Recreational marijuana was approved in the state last year and becomes legal on January 1. The 2012 vote was a massive victory for the pro-pot crowd, but some of those same advocates now worry the proposed taxes on legal weed might reignite the underground market.

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