This Tuesday, voters in Colorado will consider a 25% pot tax. When Colorado legalized cannabis last fall, many details were left to the state's legislature, including the pot tax proposal. Budget-hungry legislators proposed not only the 15% maximum excise tax the initiative authorized, they tacked on an additional 10% sales tax—a sharp increase over the existing 2.9% Colorado sales tax.
Let's be blunt: Proposition AA is guaranteed to pass. One of the strongest and most constant arguments in favor of cannabis legalization is the tax money it will generate. Voters in Colorado were certainly swayed by the tax and regulate argument, and it seems unthinkable that they would choose pot regulation then reject pot taxation.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly think people should be able to get free or cheap weed—to grow it at home, to gift it, to buy and sell it at the farmer's market like lettuce. Still, no amount of hash oil could stone me into thinking anti-pot-tax crusaders have a gram of a chance to stave off cannabis taxes.
This despite giving out 600 joints worth of free marijuana. A super kind gesture, I must admit, but it simply illustrates the obvious: Prop AA opponents have few compelling political arguments and marginalize their point with cute, Kesey-style merry pranks.
Put yourself in the shoes of one of the 55% of Colorado voters who chose legal pot but doesn't consume cannabis. Maybe he's a gun-loving libertarian who thinks consensual crime shouldn't underly a 2-million-prisoner justice system. Maybe she's a mom who doesn't want their teenager denied student loans over a cannabis conviction. Do you honestly think a free joint handout in a city square is an action that resonates with these voters?
And how about the 45% of folks that didn't choose legal pot, who think it's a bad thing? Now that pot's legal, do you think they're going to reject a sin tax on weed? Not likely.
It's like you told those voters that the alternative to taxing pot for school construction is to let dope dealers profit so greatly they can afford to brazenly buy votes in broad daylight. The argument got lost in the action, and anti-tax advocates helped simplify the matter to a choice between two camps, two styles of public presentation and politics.
Crazy-talk press releases calling pro-tax campaign donors cartel members, nefarious apologists, rich blue bloods, east coast liberals, union bosses, and DEA agents—all in one news release—only secure a rational person's desire to have no association with such kooks.
But ridiculous politics has little to do with why all the papers suggest a yes vote. Supporters argue that pot taxes are needed to pay for pot industry regulation, will fund school construction, and will help stave off the long arm of the federal government. Beyond that, many long-range legal pot planners believe that by plugging cannabis into the tax revenue stream, we will institutionalize the industry and make government reliant on pot tax money. It is a plan to get the government hooked on pot. First hit's free, then you gotta protect your wallet from the feds.
Of course, calling this race is easy, so I'll go even further and predict a 79% yes vote for Proposition AA. In April, a poll indicated 77% support for the measure, and the same pollster was 2% under on Amendment 64. Add that 2% under-estimate to their current poll, and you've got one of the biggest landslide votes in support of a legal pot measure ever. And no amount of free weed handouts can stop that.