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Littleton council ponders sales tax on marijuana

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By Ramsey Scott

While the state legislature is deciding how to tax the sale of recreational marijuana and at what rate, Littleton wants to make sure municipalities will have a share of any revenue generated. 

Littleton City Council member Jim Taylor wants the city to send a letter to the state voicing a strong desire for municipalities to retain the right to levy sales taxes on recreational marijuana. 

“The amendment (Amendment 64) allowed excise tax to be collected by the state. Cities aren’t allowed to do that,” Taylor said. “They can go with an excise tax, while we would have to be reliant on the sales tax.”

A proposal to write a letter to the 10 legislators working on marijuana regulations, and also to leadership in the state House and Senate and to Littleton’s state legislators, passed 6-1 on April 2, with Mayor Debbie Brinkman voting no. 

Taylor pointed to discussions in the legislature about the state possibly placing a sales tax on recreational marijuana. If that happens, Taylor said, cities would be left without any way to collect revenue from pot sales. 

Taylor said if the state won voter approval for a high sales tax, it might be more difficult for Littleton to enact its own levy. 

That could mean Littleton would be without a way to recoup the cost of enforcing any regulatory framework the state approves for recreational marijuana, Taylor said. 

Council member Bruce Beckman echoed Taylor’s concerns about how a state sales tax might affect Littleton’s ability to recover the costs of enforcing regulation.

Beckman also said that if taxes became too high on recreational marijuana, it could create another black market for pot, the opposite of what voters intended when they approved the legalization of small amounts of recreational marijuana last November. 

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22 and follow him on Twitter for breaking news @RamseyColumbine.