Legalize it! Tax it!

Colorado voters pass pot tax; Maine voters legalize it

Legalize it! Tax it!
Illustration by Craig Staggs

It may be an off-year election, but voters are still high on pot measures, with key votes Tuesday night in two states signaling to reformers that the War on Marijuana is certainly down in the polls.

In Colorado, a handy 65% majority of voters yesterday approved a new tax on legal marijuana sales across the state. Colorado voters in November 2012 were among those to make history by approving a popular measure to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana cultivation and recreational use by adults. (Voters in Washington approved a similar measure.) Now, voters have weighed in again, heavily in favor of the proposed 15% tax on wholesale pot transactions – the first $40 million of which, annually, will be put into the state's school construction fund – and of an additional 10% tax on retail sales. The state's first retail pot shops are set to open in January.

"Colorado is demonstrating to the rest of the nation that it is possible to end marijuana prohibition and successfully regulate marijuana like alcohol," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, which backed the successful 2012 legalization, and this taxation, measure. "It's only a matter of time before voters and lawmakers in other states recognize the benefits and adopt similar policies."

Indeed, voters in Portland, Maine, voted overwhelmingly Tuesday (reportedly, nearly 70% in favor) to legalize recreational marijuana use and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of pot by adults in that city, making it the first on the East Coast to do so. How the law will play out in the short term is unclear: pot possession and use is still illegal under state law, though possession of up to 2.5 ounces is subject to a fine only. Still, unlike in Colorado and Washington, there are no legal sources of marijuana and folks with pot packaged for sale are subject to criminal charges regardless the amount. (According to the Portland Press Herald, the city's police chief, Michael Sauschuck explains it like this: "If you smoke a joint, it's a civil violation; if you pass it to the person next to you, it's a criminal violation for furnishing; and if that person pays for the joint, it's a criminal charge for selling marijuana," the paper reported.)

Nonetheless, the overwhelming vote in favor of legalization in Maine's largest city is encouraging to the MPP, which will support a statewide legalization measure in 2016. Indeed, MPP reports that it will support passage measures to legalize, tax, and regulation marijuana in 13 additional states by 2017 – including in Alaska in 2014, and California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and Nevada in 2016.

More Marijuana
Fill a Bowl for Stickland
Fill a Bowl for Stickland
State rep's stoner past comes out in primary

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 30, 2015

High Profits: Cannabis as Pot of Gold
On the Eve of 4/20
High Profits, by Austin’s Bat Bridge Entertainment, debuts

Marjorie Baumgarten, April 19, 2015

More Drug War
4:20 on 5/3: Rally for Pot-Law Reform
4:20 on 5/3: Rally for Pot-Law Reform
Million Marijuana March this Saturday in Austin

Jordan Smith, May 1, 2014

Justice Says Legalize It
Justice Says Legalize It
Retired Supreme Court judge weighs in on pot prohibition

Jordan Smith, April 25, 2014

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


Elections, Election 2013, marijuana, legalization, Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert, marijuana taxation, NORML, Drug War, War on Marijuana, War on Pot

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)