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Voters to decide if marijuana sales taxes will increase in Pueblo County

Posted at 2:56 PM, Sep 05, 2018

PUEBLO COUNTY- The ballot is getting even longer for voters in Pueblo County this November.

The Pueblo County Board of County Commissioners voted to add a question asking voters to raise the marijuana sales tax from 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent and change the methodology for calculating the excise tax.

This would make the total sales tax for marijuana 6.5 percent, with the 1 percent sales tax.

County officials say changing the calculation of the excise tax, it will follow state guidelines closer.

Instead of the current average market rate (AMR) used to calculate the excise tax, the question asks if marijuana businesses should be taxed on the sales rate.

The possibility of the ballot measure passing is causing concern for some workers in the marijuana industry.

“It begins to look more of like it’s a threat towards our industry and that comes forth as a little hurtful to be honest,” said William Swift, manager of the 404 Dispensary in Pueblo.

Pueblo County Board of County Commissioners
Pueblo County Commissioners approved a ballot question Wednesday morning that will ask voters to increase the sales tax on marijuana.

“We’ll see some of the smaller grows and some of the larger grows in our county that employ up to hundreds of people that could potentially go out of business,” said Swift.

One-third of the money collected from the marijuana sales tax will fund Pueblo County Scholarships.

“I think the possibility to increase the number of dollars that are collected for scholarships is really an amazing, worthwhile venture,” said Christina Trujillo, Executive Dir. for the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation.

The other two-thirds will go into a newly created special projects fund to take care of needs such as updating patrol vehicles.

By allocating more money to the scholarship fund, Commissioner Sal Pace said he believes it will take care of a growing need of providing better education to students in Pueblo.

“Every student has a right to try and grow out of poverty,” Pace said in the Wednesday’s meeting.

Pace added in an interview with the media, that the scholarship program could be in danger without the added revenue.

With the increase, the marijuana sales tax in Pueblo is still lower than surrounding areas.

Trinidad’s complete sales tax comes in at 10.5 percent and Manitou Spring’s sits at 11.13 percent.

Commissioners also plan to create a board of community members that will keep track of where all of the marijuana revenue is allocated.