Colorado Passes Tax On Pot For Schools, Regulation

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Colorado voters have approved a measure to tax recreational marijuana to regulate the drug and raise money for school construction.

The measure approved Tuesday implements a 15 percent pot excise tax plus a 10 percent sales tax. The taxes are estimated to bring in $70 million a year.

11 News talked with state representative Mark Waller about the issue.

"We're doing something that's never been done before, not just in the state of Colorado, but in the history of the United States of America,” Waller said. “We're creating a regulatory structure for something that is, by the way, currently still illegal at the federal level. This is going to take a huge effort to do it appropriately."

Public schools were supposed to get a portion of the tax increase, but Waller said the problem might be that it will only kick in after the tax money is used to help police the marijuana industry. Waller added we won't likely see any money going to our schools from the marijuana tax for several years.

The taxes are in addition to a 2.9 percent sales tax that pot stores will be subjected to for marijuana regulation. Sales of recreational marijuana become legal in Colorado on Jan. 1.

Opponents of the taxes argued that marijuana should be taxed like beer, which has a lower tax rate. Supporters, including pot legalization advocates, called the measure an opportunity to show the marijuana industry can be beneficial.