Steamboat police chief wants more of state’s marijuana tax revenues
March 6, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs Police Chief Joel Rae said Thursday that he is one of many police officials in Colorado who is “disappointed” with how Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to spend marijuana tax revenues.
A letter dated Monday from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police asks Hickenlooper to set aside 10 to 15 percent of the state’s marijuana revenues for local law enforcement.
The Denver Post reported that a budget proposal Hickenlooper sent to the Legislature last month estimated marijuana revenues next fiscal year will be more than $133 million, but only a little more than $3 million is designated for statewide law enforcement and public safety programs.
Hickenlooper is proposing spending more than $85 million of the revenues on youth marijuana use prevention and addiction treatment.
The letter from the police chiefs included a prioritized list of funding needs to mitigate potential problems associated with the proliferation of marijuana in the state.
At the top of the list is providing funding that will allow police departments to train officers to better detect when a driver might be under the influence of marijuana.
Many of the officers at the Steamboat Springs Police Department already have received this training.
Rae said making sure people are not driving under the influence of marijuana is one of his priorities, and more funding would help them “arm our police officers with the training and tools to keep our roads safe.”
“Road safety, street safety, highway safety is huge,” Rae said.
Rae said that if all three potential retail marijuana businesses in Steamboat came online, they would each be paying about $9,000 annually to the city in license fees. The money goes into the city's general fund.
“About half of it is really for the time and effort that we put into really monitoring the regulations of the up-and-coming businesses,” Rae said.
More money would allow local police to address other concerns, Rae said.
“There are many aspects of it,” Rae said. “Another piece of that is having resources in our schools to keep drugs out of our schools.”
The letter to Hickenlooper specifically asks for funding to pay for investigations conducted by multijurisdictional drug task forces, such as the All Crimes Enforcement Team, which investigates drug crimes in Routt and Moffat counties.
Rae said the marijuana black market still is thriving locally, and Amendment 64 did not make it legal to traffic marijuana.
“It did not make it legal for everyone to grow marijuana and ship it to other states,” Rae said.