Apr 6, 2013 11:36 PM by Tony Spehar - email@example.com
The process has been long and contentious, but legislative panel tasked with recommending how to regulate commercial marijuana sales released a long list of ideas on Friday that are drawing criticism from those hoping to find success in the pot business.
One of the most talked about recommendations is the proposal to possible tax pot sales above 30-percent. The panel called for a 15-percent excise tax that would help fund schools and a 15-percent sales tax to pay for potentially costly enforcement in addition to the state's 2.9-percent sales tax and any taxes local governments choose to enact.
KC Stark, who runs the MMJ Business Academy and the StudioA64 Smoking Club in Colorado Springs, said on Saturday that he disagreed with the proposed tax rate saying it could eliminate the benefits of legalizing commercial marijuana sales.
"It makes no sense," Stark claimed. "You will probably have people who would decide not to do it openly, to go back to the black market where zero-percent is collected."
The panel made a number of other recommendations like limiting out-of-state visitors to buying an eighth of an ounce at a time and residents to buying a quarter of an ounce. With a recent audit showing budget problems plaguing regulation of medicinal sales, Stark said adding more oversight duties for the state didn't make sense.
"The state is now (under the proposed buying limit) responsible for every eighth, every quarter, every ounce," Stark described. "Which is neat if they could do it within their budget."
Other proposed rules include banning radio and television advertisements for pot sales, not allowing medicinal marijuana stores to sell recreational pot and labeling guidelines among other recommendations. Stark said he agreed with some of the ideas, but feared over-regulation could stifle a potentially valuable industry.
"You can tax it but if you over regulate, over tax, you simply create more problems and feed a black market so let's be smart," he said.
The marijuana panel is scheduled to wrap-up their work on Monday and then lawmakers will have to make final decisions on how the state will regulate the industry before sales start in January. However, the law requires voters to make the decision on how to tax pot sales, a vote on that issue would come in November.