Hickenlooper Makes Blooper on Weed Tax

October 16, 2013
By
Hickenlooper is taking heat for comments he made about a proposed initiative to boost marijuana taxes

Hick is taking heat for comments he made about a proposed initiative to boost marijuana taxes

DENVER – Considering the number of bills signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper this year that later needed to be revamped or legally evaluated, critics wondered aloud whether the governor read the legislation or forgot his veto power.

Hickenlooper’s recent ramblings about legalized marijuana and associated taxes lit more questions about his knowledge of ballot issues facing voters in November.

Coloradans passed Amendment 64 to legalize recreational marijuana last year – a fact that disconcerted Hickenlooper. Now, voters are being asked to pass a statewide 10 percent sales tax and 15 percent excise tax on retail pot purchases. Voters also will be asked to approve local pot sales taxes.

So where do the statewide taxes go? Apparently Hickenlooper needs a clue.

“We have a really healthy tax on the ballot this fall to really make sure we can regulate (marijuana) properly,” Hickenlooper said last week during an interview on ABC’s Top Line behind the scenes of The Daily Beast’s “Hero Summit” in Washington, D.C.

“We don’t want to make a profit” off the tax revenue, declared Hickenlooper. “We’re not going to take marijuana taxes and put it towards public education or anything like that.”

Yet, the first $40 million a year in revenue generated from marijuana excise taxes is designated for the public school capital construction assistance fund.

That, in fact, was part of the campaign ad campaign to pass Amendment 64 – and was clearly written in the ballot title and description that was approved by voters in November 2012.

“We all know where the money from nonmedical marijuana sales is currently going,” said the ad’s narrator, hinting at the underground market sales of recreational pot. “It doesn’t need to be that way.”

“If we pass Amendment 64, Colorado businesses would profit, and tax revenues would pay for public services and the reconstruction of our schools,” concluded the ad.

During his interview last Wednesday, Hickenlooper’s comments sounded like a postscript to the ad’s suggestion of legalizing and taxing marijuana is a better outcome than filling the pockets of black market entrepreneurs.

“We’re going to let this, at least in Colorado, legal industry expand and go forward,” said Hickenlooper. “Except that we want to make sure there isn’t corruption, that we’re not getting, you know, racketeering and gang connections coming into this.”

The governor’s remarks, however, sparked questions about his knowledge of legislative bills as well as ballot initiatives, which are clearly described in the Blue Book as a public service for Colorado voters.

“The fact that Governor Hickenlooper, our state’s chief executive, doesn’t even know what’s on the ballot is, frankly, shocking,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “This is simply another facet of his poor leadership. His statement should cause Coloradans to question whether he has a firm grasp of other critical ballot issues.”

On the last day of the legislative session in May, Hickenlooper told reporters that he would “promote” the sales and excises taxes to gain voter approval.

“We need to make sure we have the resources to have a good regulatory framework to manage this,” said Hickenlooper of recreational marijuana. He might have been aware of the scathing audits of state agencies under his leadership that failed to account for green energy projects as well as regulate medical marijuana since it became legal in 2001.

Hickenlooper hasn’t taken a high profile role in promoting the pot tax – but after unions’ prodding he did jump on the bandwagon to push Amendment 66, a statewide two-tier income tax to generate $1 billion a year to fund public schools with no sunset in sight.

“Does the governor fully understand the negative impact that Amendment 66, the billion dollar tax increase, will have on Coloradans?” asked Maher.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

2 Responses to Hickenlooper Makes Blooper on Weed Tax

  1. Bob Terry
    October 16, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Like out of a Monty Python Movie … Tax tax Tax Tax ..wonderful Tax.. Of course, regulate weed,oops now we have 1.4 in the coffers for the schools…yeah right…

    Gosh such a dilemma, Tax weed ..piss off the stoners..Raise taxes for Amendment 66, piss off the taxpayer..but kiss the Union Butts 2 + 2 = 8, wrong answer..but if it makes me feel good..it’s the right answer…

    What are we doing here … I didn’t know that the Bozo the Clown show left Chicago and settled in the Colorado State legislature… Maybe Evie Hudak can be a new clown.

  2. Leigh C.
    October 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    This is part of an effort to distance himself from the marijuana industry to people outside of Colorada and he considers running for President in 2016. He also manipulated the research to justify eliminating use of the flag as part of the state logo for the same reason. The flag is public property and cannot be trademarked. The green triangle can and is trademarked, and will not be available to this “federally-illegal” industry. The real audience is people outside of Colorado that he wants to move here and stimulate the economy. The initiative could have had tremendous value in terms of a buy-local campaign. Shouldn’t that have been the point? Somebody needs to call him out on this because he’s painting two different pictures of himself around the marijuana industry and confusing/upsetting everyone in the process.

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