Colorado proposes sales tax increase on marijuana during pandemic
Voters in Colorado will be asked if they will be willing to pay more for their marijuana if the additional revenue will be used to further fund certain after-school programs. The current sales tax rate for cannabis in the state is 15%. Proposition 119 will add an additional five percent on top by the year 2024 and create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress program. The Colorado Learning Authority will also be established to oversee the program.
Organizations that would be eligible for the organization are ones that provide after-school tutoring, second language learning, musical lessons, mental health services, and sports, career, or technical training for children aged 5-17. The proposal also prioritizes lower-income students for the funding from the additional revenue, which is estimated to bring in nearly $137 million per year.
According to proponents of Prop. 119, the opportunity gap was further widened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional funding is needed to help students who have unfortunately fallen behind to catch up. The money collected will not go directly to school, but, instead, to districts that would benefit greatly from grant funding.
Marijuana companies have come out on the opposing side of this proposal, noting that any sales tax is a regressive tax that disproportionately hurts lower-income users. Cannabis currently receives the highest possible sales tax in the state. Advocacy groups argue that Prop 119 will unintentionally hurt the very people it set out to help. Executive director for the Marijuana Industry Group Truman Bradley also point out that this proposition will be a tax on people’s pain.
Prop. 119 will be on the ballot in Colorado, where voters will get to decide on Nov. 2 if they want to pay five percent more in sales taxes for their marijuana use in order to fund after-school programs for children from lower-income families.