Colorado May Vote On Marijuana Tax Hike To Fund Training Packages After Marketing campaign Submits Signatures
A campaign in Colorado seems to have gotten enough signatures in November to bring voters to a vote that would raise marijuana taxes to fund programs designed to narrow the education gap for low-income students.
The Colorado Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) measure would provide low- and middle-income families with a $ 1,500 scholarship to allow school-age children to attend afternoon programs, tutoring, and summer learning activities.
The state excise tax on sales of adult cannabis products would be increased from 15 percent to 20 percent to fund the effort.
Proponents say these policies are particularly needed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated income-related learning gaps for students. But some marijuana industry stakeholders – and even the state’s largest teachers’ union – have expressed concern about the proposal.
In any case, the LEAP campaign signed around 200,000 signatures for the measure at the Foreign Ministry on Friday. It only takes 124,632 valid signatures to qualify.
Monica Colbert Burton, a representative of the LEAP campaign, told Colorado Public Radio that the significant signature performance “really demonstrates widespread support across the state for this issue.”
“The learning loss we’ve seen during the pandemic is so much higher than ever, especially for our low-income families and our students who don’t have access to the same resources,” said Colbert Burton.
In addition to imposing the additional five percent tax on cannabis, the initiative is also calling for the state revenue that it generates from lease and lease agreements for operations on state land to be converted. Proponents estimate the move would mean $ 150 million in additional funding annually.
However, according to an analysis by Westword, adding the tax to the existing 15 percent special tax would have created only $ 80 million in additional revenue based on 2020 sales.
Some stakeholders and cannabis advocates have come out strongly against the proposal.
“That this initiative is being pushed forward in Colorado at a time when the cannabis industry is trying to bring more justice and economic growth to marginalized communities damaged by the racist drug war is particularly deaf,” said Hashim Coates, executive director of the Black Brown and Red trading group Badged, according to a press release. “But that’s to be expected if the backers behind this move are wealthy white men.”
“Let’s be very clear: this is a regressive tax – which always hurts the black and brown consumers the most. This goes to a voucher program – one that always hurts the most black and brown communities, ”Coates said. “And it targets the marijuana industry as the magic bottomless piggy bank – the one that will destroy the Black and Brown-owned cannabis companies the most. After this pandemic, can we just let the black community breathe for a moment before taxing them to death?
The measure is endorsed by two former governors, about 20 incumbent state lawmakers, several former legislative leaders, and several other educational organizations.
But in June, the Colorado Education Association withdrew its support for the proposal because of implementation concerns.
The next step for the initiative is for the State Secretariat to check whether there are enough valid signatures in the pile of submitted LEAP supporters.
That development comes days after Colorado officials announced the opening of a new office to economically support the state’s marijuana industry.
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The department, created under a bill signed in March, is funded from cannabis tax revenue. It will focus on creating “new economic development opportunities, local jobs, and community growth for the diverse populations across Colorado.”
Governor Jared Polis (D) originally asked the legislature in January to set up a new cannabis subsidy program as part of his budget proposal.
Beyond this program, the state has worked in other ways to achieve justice and repair the harm of the ban.
For example, in May, Polis signed a law doubling the limit on adult marijuana possession in the state – and instructed state law enforcement to identify individuals with criminal records for the new limit who he may be able to pardon.
The governor signed an executive order last year pardoning nearly 3,000 people convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana.
The new office will be funded through tax revenue from a booming cannabis market in the state. In the first three months of 2021 alone, the state recorded more than half a billion dollars in marijuana sales.
Lack of access to government funding for marijuana companies became a pronounced problem amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the Small Business Administration said it was unable to provide its services to these companies, as well as those that provide ancillary services such as accounting and law firms.
Polis wrote a letter to a member of the Colorado Congressional delegation last year calling for a policy change to provide the industry with the same resources made available to other legal markets.
The California Senator is calling for state clarification on the use of medical marijuana in hospitals
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