Colorado eyes spending plan for pot revenues

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has proposed a spending plan for tax revenues generated by marijuana sales.

Youth prevention a key focus

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper wants the biggest slice of the marijuana revenue pie to go toward youth marijuana use prevention and deterrence, with $45 million (including $7 million matching federal funds) earmarked for those programs in Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

Hickenlooper this week released a proposed spending plan for revenues collected as a result of Proposition AA, which voters approved last fall to establish excise and sales taxes on adult-use marijuana.

“When the voters passed Amendment 64, it became the state’s obligation to implement it sensibly and responsibly, mindful of all Coloradans (especially mindful of our Colorado families and children). We have strategies to do exactly that,” Hickenlooper said. “Now, thanks to the revenues generated by Proposition AA, which voters passed last fall, we have the funding to put them in place.”

In addition to $29 million in enforcement money already planned for this year and next, the spending plan allocates money as follows (totals are for FY 2013-14 and FY 2014-15):

  • Youth marijuana use prevention and deterrence ($45.5 million);

  • Substance abuse treatment ($40.4 million);

  • Public health ($12.4 million);

  • Regulatory oversight ($1.8 million);

  • Law enforcement and public safety ($3.2 million); and

  • Statewide coordination ($200,000)

Retail sales of marijuana started Jan. 1 in Colorado. Voters approved an excise tax of 15 percent, wherein the first $40 million goes to school construction, and also a special sales tax of 10 percent, which is in addition to the 2.9 percent state sales tax. Collections in FY 2014-15 are expected to total $133.6 million, a figure that includes sales of medical and adult-use marijuana.

As part of following what voters approved, Hickenlooper wants programming outside of the guaranteed amount for education to have a direct or indirect relationship to marijuana use. Also, spending plans should not create any situation where state or local government has an incentive to promote marijuana use.

“We are pleased to submit our request for allocation of new state resources available from passage of Proposition AA and the sales taxes from medical marijuana,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter this week to the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee.

“Our administration is committed to the responsible regulation of adult-use marijuana and the effective allocation of resources to protect public safety and health and to prevent underage use. Indeed, we view our top priority as creating an environment where negative impacts on children from marijuana legalization are avoided completely. Underage use of marijuana can have long-lasting effects on individuals and communities.”

Given that marijuana sales just began less than two months ago, the current spending plan leaves room for forecast fluctuations and unknown needs that could arise during the year.

The spending plan now goes through the legislative process and will be finalized with the overall state budget for FY 2014-15.

 

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