Marijuana’s 2021 Election Results in Colorado: Tax Increases Fail, Six…

Marijuana took up a fair proportion of space on 2021 election ballots in Colorado.

Colorado voters considered a controversial statewide proposition that called for increasing marijuana taxes to sustain out-of-school learning, while eight Colorado cities voted on local pot measures involving everything from more sales tax increases to the end of dispensary bans.

Here are the results:

Proposition 119
The only marijuana-related question on the statewide ballot, Prop 119 failed despite endorsements from Governor Jared Polis and several other influential political figures, including former governors Bill Ritter and Bill Owens and former Denver mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Pena.

If it had passed, 119 would have produced the State Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Initiative (jump), a program of annual stipends to cover out-of-school learning sets. A 5 percent as a hobby marijuana sales tax increase and the repurposing of a portion of investment revenue derived from leases, rents and royalties paid for state-owned lands would have funded the program.

Prop 119 faced increased scrutiny as the election neared; cannabis consumers were concerned by the hypothesizedv tax increase, given that Colorado currently imposes a 15 percent special tax on as a hobby marijuana sales and local governments add their own taxes on top of that. (If approved, the ballot initiative would have raised the overall marijuana sales tax in Denver from 26.41 percent to 31.41 percent.) But the educational community may have played the bigger role in 119’s failure.

The jump program faced increased criticism from educators in recent months, with some questioning how easy to reach jump stipends would be for rural and low-income students and others saying they would prefer public schools got the money directly. Providers of free out-of-school programming opposed the hypothesizedv funding allocation in addition, as only for-cost sets would have been eligible for jump.

Oversight of the board that would have overseen how jump funds were spent also came under attack. Under 119’s language, the board would have been appointed by the governor and replaced every three years by the governor, but only from a list of candidates produced by current jump board members — and without any legislative oversight.

jump proponents argued that out-of-school education is a big factor in achievement gaps among students, and that the stipends were intended for students from low- and middle-income families. The effort received powerful sustain beyond politicians, including from organizations like Mile High Early Learning, Servicios de la Raza and Gary Community Ventures, a nonprofit that spent nearly $1 million pushing the proposal.

All of the financial and political sustain wasn’t enough to push 119 by, however. The proposition trailed from the start as results were announced, and Vote Yes on 119, the organization behind jump, conceded before the night ended, ultimately losing by almost 9 percent.

“The meaningful gap in achievement between students from wealthy families and their low-income peers has been an unfortunate educational outcome in Colorado for years — and tonight’s results average it will likely continue to get worse before it gets better,” Vote Yes on 119 spokesman Curtis Hubbard said in a statement as the proponents conceded. “Access to affordable, quality after-school education sets is not a possibility for many families living in Colorado — and we will work with anyone who has a better idea on how to tackle the problem.”

While the marijuana industry was worried about more than one possible tax increase, 119 was the biggest threat.

“Tonight, Colorado voters made clear that they are not willing to raise taxes at the expense of cannabis patients and consumers for special interests that don’t assistance the majority of Coloradans,” Marijuana Industry Group executive director Truman Bradley said in a statement as the outcome became clear. “The cannabis community truly values our ability to sustain causes Colorado cares about like public safety, mental health, substance abuse, youth prevention education, and affordable housing. In fact, we have given more than $425 Million to these and to other state and local government programs to date.”

Denver
Although not as publicized, Denver had its own controversial tax hike on as a hobby pot sales on the local ballot. Initiative 300: Pandemic Research Fund would have raised the city’s as a hobby marijuana sales by 1.5 percent to fund pandemic research and public-response plans during pandemics. According to proponents of the measure, around $7 million would have been raised yearly by the tax increase for research by the University of Colorado Denver CityCenter — a partnership of CU Denver, the City of Denver and local businesses.

A CU Denver spokeswoman told Westword that the school “did not begin this proposal, is not involved in the campaign or identifying characteristics-gathering course of action, and has not taken a position on this hypothesizedv ballot initiative.” nevertheless, more than $540,000 was spent on the initiative’s campaign by Guarding Against Pandemics, a group registered in Delaware with ties to cryptocurrency investor Sam Bankman-Fried.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock opposed I-300, and so did marijuana stakeholders. By night’s end, I-300 lost with just over 40 percent of the vote.

“Denver voters recognized that this measure — funded by an out-of-town billionaire — taxes people’s pain relief to pay for a random, pandemic preparation program that has no accountability, no oversight, no specific solutions, no connection to the marijuana industry and no relationship to chief city sets,” Chuck Smith, board president of marijuana industry organization Colorado Leads, said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the city’s business community will oppose any future efforts to increase taxes on the Denver cannabis industry just as they would for any other industry in the city.”

Lakewood
Tax increases on as a hobby marijuana sales went 0-3 across Colorado after Lakewood’s results came in.  A year after Lakewood voters approved as a hobby marijuana sales, the Lakewood City Council had approved a ballot initiative that would have produced special marijuana sales and excise taxes similar to those in many municipalities that allow as a hobby pot sales. The special marijuana taxes would have been set at 5 percent if approved, while the City of Lakewood would have had the right to raise the tax up to 10 percent without further voter approval. The tax increase would have raised around $2.9 million per year for Lakewood, according to city estimates, with the money going to marijuana business regulation and enforcement, public-health programs and education associated with pot use, in addition as “other general expenses of the city.”

This measure failed, with over 54 percent of voters rejecting it. As a consequence, Lakewood’s overall sales tax rate for as a hobby marijuana purchases will keep 19.6 percent.

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Golden’s lone medical marijuana dispensary may stay that way.

Courtesy of Golden different Medicine

Golden
A ballot initiative proposing as a hobby marijuana sales in Golden was nevertheless too close by the end of November 2, with just over 52 percent of 6,168 voters going for the proposal. However, a separate ballot question proposing a 6 percent special sales and excise tax on possible as a hobby pot sales passed by a wide margin. According to city estimates, the new tax would raise around $900,000 in tax revenue per year.

But first, Golden voters must pass the measure that would allow marijuana sales. It was left deliberately general so that the Golden council could draft and implement rules, including a licensing structure and possible social equity resolutions, if both measures are approved.

Westminster
Westminster’s marijuana as a hobby sales initiative also leads by a slim margin, although the 52.7 percent of “yes” votes should be enough for a victory. But already so, Westminster probably won’t be getting dispensaries soon.

Under the ballot measures crafted by Westminster City Council earlier this year, marijuana businesses could only come to town if Westminster voters approved a separate measure creating a special sales tax of 5 percent on pot sales — and they didn’t, remarkable down the tax by a 5 percent margin. The new tax revenue from the special sales tax would’ve raised an estimated $2 million yearly.

Brighton
Brighton voters had to consider two separate marijuana issues in one question this year: repealing the town’s ban on as a hobby marijuana sales, and creating a 4 percent special sales tax on dispensary sales. Over 53 percent of voters rejected the measure, however, leaving Brighton on a shrinking list of Denver suburbs that don’t allow commercial pot.

Wellington
After a hotly contested attempt to get marijuana sales on the 2020 ballot failed, Wellington voters nevertheless haven’t decided whether to allow dispensaries in town. As of 11 p.m. November 2, a referendum proposing marijuana sales trailed by 48 votes, leaving it too close to call. According to the Larimer County Clerk, ballot counting resumed at 9 a.m. today.

As of last night, another ballot question creating a 3.5 percent sales tax on as a hobby marijuana purchases was over 200 votes ahead.

Lamar
Located just over thirty minutes from the Kansas border in Prowers County, Lamar banned marijuana sales in 2010. However, Lamar City Council revisited the issue this summer, approving two separate ballot questions that would permit medical and as a hobby marijuana businesses while creating special sales and excise taxes on as a hobby pot sales and transactions.

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Question 2B, which would end Lamar’s ban on medical and as a hobby marijuana businesses, was in the rule with 54 percent of votes, while Ballot Issue 2A, a hypothesizedv special tax on as a hobby marijuana sales and wholesale transactions, led by a 10 percent margin.

Mead

Mead has extremely medical marijuana sales since 2011 and preemptively banned as a hobby marijuana sales in 2013 — a ban that Mead voters upheld in 2019. A citizen initiative was submitted in July with enough signatures to again ask Mead voters to repeal the local ban on medical and as a hobby marijuana sales, but the effort has failed once more, according to Weld County’s unofficial results, which show that over 61 percent of voters rejected a measure allowing pot businesses. A separate question creating a special sales tax was approved, however, so if the ban is ever repealed, a tax will be in place.



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