Steamboat Springs State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, said Friday that she would not support a measure that could result in recreational marijuana once again being criminalized.
“The voters of Colorado spoke clearly on Amendment 64,” Mitsch Bush wrote in an email. “We legislators should not second guess the voters with the wording on the constitutionally required referred measure. That would be disrespectful.”
Coloradans were 55 percent in favor of Amendment 64, which makes it legal for anyone 21 or older to possess as much as an ounce of marijuana.
Among other things, Colorado lawmakers this week were working on legislation that would govern the sale of marijuana for recreational use. As part of that, a bill is being debated that would propose asking voters in November to tax marijuana by as much as 30 percent. As much as 15 percent would go toward building new schools, and another 15 percent could go toward paying for the state’s cost of enforcing the new marijuana laws governing sales.
Denver media outlets Friday were reporting that some lawmakers think the 30 percent tax rate is too high and voters might not approve it. If that happens, Colorado taxpayers would end up footing the bill for enforcing the new marijuana laws.
"Without this measure, we won't be able to implement a model that will ensure our communities can be kept safe," Longmont Democrat Rep. Jonathan Singer said during a committee meeting, according to The Denver Post.
Some lawmakers are proposing a repeal of Amendment 64 if voters do not approve the tax.
“The idea has many people who are interested in it," Highlands Ranch Republican Rep. Frank McNulty told the Post.
With 13 days left in the legislative session, McNulty went on to say lawmakers have not come up with final language for a repeal proposal.
The Post reported it is unclear whether the supporters have the backing of leaders in the Legislature to introduce the repeal bill. Two-thirds of legislators would need to support the bill for it to go to voters.
Mitsch Bush said she was unclear whether that support existed.
Routt County’s District 8 state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Josh Scruggs, a partner in Golden Leaf Medical Marijuana in Steamboat Springs, does not think repealing recreational marijuana will be a question voters will face because he thinks voters will support the 30 percent tax in the November election.
“I don’t think people will go against the 30 percent tax,” he said.
Supporters of the potential bill asking for voters to repeal Amendment 64 have said voters should not be concerned about the repeal if the tax is approved.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com