• Thinkstock

A weeeeeird thing is happening in Colorado. All of the tax money the state collected from recreational marijuana transactions during its first year of legalization — $44 million from the 28 percent sales tax — has to be returned, thanks to a tax loophole in the state's constitution.

While high state revenues must have been a selling point to reluctant voters who approved recreational legalization in 2012, the $44 million figure was actually underwhelming compared to government estimates.

But Colorado law has a provision protecting against unnecessary new taxes. Specifically, the state constitution says a new voter-approved tax (like that on marijuana, which followed voter approval of legal weed) can only go into effect when the state needs the money. In 2014 a strong economy boosted overall tax revenue beyond state projections, meaning money from the new pot tax must be returned.

How the state will do that has yet to be determined; it can dole out $44 million in checks to all income tax payers, or it can stop charging sales tax on weed for a year. At least one state senator has said that will harm the drug programs and schools that were slated to get money, and is pushing to ask voters to go ahead and let the state keep the revenue.

That could go either way. While many non-users likely approved legalization for the tax boon to schools, it's hard to imagine people turning down a government issued check (even for a paltry half-eighth sum). Some dispensary owners reportedly like the tax, as it legitimizes their enterprises, but their customers — who paid more than $8 in taxes on a $30 eighth last year — probably wouldn't complain about a year's worth of tax-free weed.

Even the tax-leery Right has waffled on its give-us-back-our-money stance. The Associated Press reported that, while state Republicans typically oppose the government keeping refunds guaranteed by the state constitution, they think pot should "pay for itself."

One if by land, two if by university? The suits keep coming: The former head of the University of Nevada, Reno was recently awarded one of the city's first medical marijuana business licenses. Joe Crowley, who was well liked at the university, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal, said his brother and sister used marijuana to relieve pain from multiple sclerosis and surgeries.

I'm going to make an assumption (yes, I know what happens when I assume) that there's a big crossover between Humboldt County's legion of anti-vaxxers and those who enjoy and/or grow weed. So be wary of exploding heads, as the new surgeon general, who has been touring the nation promoting vaccination, also recently told CBS This Morning that marijuana "can be helpful" for certain conditions and symptoms. Vivek Murthy called for science-driven marijuana policies, but came short of calling for legalization like former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and one-time surgeon general candidate Sanjay Gupta.

The buzzkillers at the Mateel Community Center squashed your chance to drop the kids while you float around the Ganjier Spring Kickoff this coming weekend. Though the festival initially advertised a "Kid's Zone" nestled between the Law Offices of Kathleen Bryson and the Pure Analytics Cannabis Potency and Safety Screening booths (where little Jack and Jill would presumably be soothed by the sweet sounds of SoHum Girls and EZ Money from the nearby stage), the Mateel's board raised its jack boots and curbed the notion of anyone under 18 getting into the festival, "even in a designated kids area," according to event organizers.

Maybe grandma can look after them.

Add a comment