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A year after legalizing recreational marijuana, Colorado has raked in some $60 million in tax dollars. However, thanks to an anti-spending provision in the state's constitution, it may have to refund the money to the drug's consumers, growers and the public.
Now the state's lawmakers are making a push to ask residents for permission to keep the money.
One of those lawmakers, state Sen. Pat Steadman, a Democrat, said he wants to make sure the money is spent for "the things the voters wanted marijuana tax spent on," such as school construction.
"I'm working on a ballot measure that would get voter approval to not make the refund, to allow the state to keep it," Steadman said. "We've got a whole package of things we would like to do with this money and it would be a shame to have to refund it."
Steadman said the situation is an example of one of the quirks in the Colorado Constitution.
The bulk of the tax overflow was generated by increased business activity and marijuana tax revenue actually came in about $10 million below projections, Steadman said.
"All of our other revenues are booming," Steadman said. "We have tax revenue and other cash revenues rolling in and because of that the marijuana tax is in trouble."
Chris Walsh, managing editor of Marijuana Business Daily, said the state's marijuana sales taxes are very strong.
"It did fall short of initial projections, but this is a brand new business so it was like throwing darts at a dartboard," Walsh said.
"The fact that we're having a debate about where the tax dollars are going is a terrific problem to have, whether it's going to consumers, to businesses or back to the state."