Counties banning retail pot want state tax money

Counties banning retail pot want state tax money

PUEBLO, Colo. - Voters will decide next week whether to approve up to a 25 percent state tax on retail marijuana sales.

Counties that have banned pot sales want the state to consider giving them part of that cash.

"If they don't want to regulate, if they don't want to enforce, if they don't want to do any work and we're eliminating their black market, why should they steal our tax money?" said Sal Pace, a Pueblo County commissioner.

The majority of counties in Colorado prohibit recreational marijuana sales. Only 11 of the state's 64 counties will allow it starting on Jan. 1. Others have a moratorium, including Jefferson County.

Jefferson County commissioner Donald Rosier said counties that don't allow retail sales may have additional costs next year from Amendment 64, including public safety and medical expenses.

Rosier said, "Are we seeing an uptick in the need through our health department and human services for counseling and addiction type of therapy?"

Rosier also added the money would help determine whether school districts are seeing an increase in students using marijuana. He's working with other counties to see how state taxes can be distributed.

"We really need to be prepared for a worst-case scenario," Rosier said.

Pace wants state legislators to keep the tax distribution as it stands under Amendment 64.

"They want their cake and eat it, too," Pace said. "If they're going to ban recreational sales, they shouldn't go and take our sales tax revenue here in Pueblo."

Colorado Counties Inc. is organizing a task force to study the impacts marijuana has on local governments before the group decides to ask the state for money.

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