For the third time in four years voters in Colorado were asked to vote on how to spend marijuana taxes on Tuesday. Back in 2012 voters approved amendment 64 to legalize marijuana and in 2013 the approved Proposition AA to allow sales and excise taxes to be used on sales of the drug. With both of those elections voters supported sending $40 million in tax dollars toward school construction.
This time voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition BB that once again allows for lawmakers to spend approximately $66.1 million in taxes collected from the sale of recreational marijuana. The proposition received roughly 69% support from the voters, which was no surprise given the bipartisan support it had from state officials. Proposition BB will send the first $40 million in revenue to school construction, $12 million will be designated for youth and substance abuse programs, and an additional $14.1 million will be put into discretionary accounts controlled by lawmakers.
In fact Tuesday’s vote only became necessary after an error made by state fiscal analysts. The revenue the state would collect without the new tax for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 was underestimated and a provision in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights mandated a refund be issued unless lawmakers won voter approval to spend it. If Proposition BB had been rejected taxpayers would have received between $6-16 a person (depending on income level) and the remaining $41 million would return to marijuana growers and recreational users.
“These election results shouldn't surprise anyone,” Senator Pat Steadman said, “Voters have twice indicated they wanted marijuana to be taxed, and the vote just reaffirms that for a third time.”