Pubdate: Sun, 13 Oct 2013
Source: Vail Daily (CO)
Copyright: 2013 Vail Daily
Author: Laura Kriho


Proposition AA would apply to retail marijuana sales that will be 
regulated under Amendment 64. Proposition AA asks voters to approve 
an additional 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers of 
cannabis to raise an estimated $27 million to fund school 
construction, and an additional 10-15 percent sales tax to raise an 
estimated $33 million to fund a new marijuana police force, according 
to the Blue Book.

Marijuana sales are already subject to a 2.9 percent statewide tax, 
along with other local taxes. Amendment 64 was promoted to voters as 
a system to regulate marijuana "like alcohol". However, since taxes 
on alcohol are less than 1 percent on average, the "No on Prop AA" 
campaign believes voters should be outraged at this bait-and-switch 
tactic to tax cannabis at a rate much greater than alcohol.

This tax debate highlights what has become a very clear division 
between cannabis supporters. There are those who support an expensive 
"strict regulation" model paid for by high taxes and over-regulation, 
and there are those who continue to support simple "legalization" 
with reasonable taxes and regulations.

To most people, "legalization" means that prohibition laws are 
repealed, people are no longer punished for cannabis use, and police 
resources are used to fight serious crimes. However, Amendment 64's 
"strict regulation" model does the opposite of this in many cases. 
The Amendment 64 model allows some people to have some marijuana at 
some times, but it continues marijuana prohibition for other people 
with other amounts of marijuana at other times.

For example, under Amendment 64, you can possess one ounce and six 
plants. But if you possess 1.000001 ounces or 7 plants, you are still 
considered a marijuana criminal. In addition, since Amendment 64 
passed, almost 300 pages of new marijuana law and penalties have been 
added to the books.

To enforce all the new marijuana crimes, Proposition AA would raise 
an estimated $33 million for the Department of Revenue's Marijuana 
Criminal Enforcement Division, the first police force in the nation 
dedicated solely to marijuana law enforcement.

Now, instead of "legalizing" marijuana for everyone, Amendment 64 has 
created a new scenario of "good pot smokers" vs. "bad pot smokers." 
The "good pot smokers" are the ones willing to pay exorbitant taxes 
and allow the Marijuana Criminal Enforcement Division to track their 
cannabis more strictly than plutonium. The "bad pot smokers" are the 
ones that will continue to purchase cannabis from their friends (or 
the evil "black market," as the Proposition AA supporters call them) 
because they value their privacy and are against overtaxation.

If Proposition AA passes, the "good pot smokers" will actually be 
funding the police to target and punish the "bad pot smokers," and we 
will have one more new, well-funded police force that will need to be 
dismantled in order to bring about true "legalization." When cannabis 
is finally really "legalized," all pot smokers will be "good pot 
smokers," no one will be punished, and there will be fewer laws and 
fewer police needed to enforce them.

Laura Kriho

Colorado 420 Coalition
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom