Finally, after much speculation and fanfare, the final total is in. The state of Colorado has $58M of excess marijuana tax revenue. Now, like the legalization itself, where that money goes will be put to a public vote.

What kind of reefer refunds would you want? A temporary tax break on marijuana, later (2016)? Or a couple extra bucks, sooner? Colorado voters will have to decide exactly that this November by voting on House Bill 1367.

House Bill 1367, which was presented to the Colorado House Appropriations Committee this week, lays out the plans for future Colorado reefer refunds. If the Bill sails through the two committee votes, a general House vote, a Senate vote, and onto the Governor’s desk lickety split as it’s predicted it will by both sides, the Colorado general public will vote on it in this coming November’s elections. Whether the Bill is voted into action, or is shot down by the Colorado public, Coloradans still win either way.

If ‘Yes’ votes win…

The Colorado people see less of an immediate, direct impact on themselves individually. However, if the bill is passed, the excess tax dollars will be appropriated into three areas:

  • $40M for state public school grants to continue public school construction projects
  • $12M in youth initiatives aimed at marijuana education and underage prevention
  • Remaining $6 to a general budget fund in which lawmakers can garner from for other proposed projects in the state

If ‘No’ votes win…

The impact on the Colorado general public will be far more direct, but far less impactful in the long run. If Coloradans vote down the bill, the money will be appropriated to many more than just three areas. Instead, the impact would be widespread and minimal:

  • In order to reign in excess tax revenue, a temporary marijuana tax cut would take effect Jan 1., 2016 – June 30, 2016. The tax cut would reduce the recreational tax rate from 10% to a minimal 0.1%.
  • $19.7M in tax refunds to marijuana grow facilities around Colorado
  • $25M tax refund to be shared by all registered Coloradans, equaling less than $10 in refund per person.

It’s that last bullet point that most Coloradans know about and are focused on. It will be interesting to see if they decide that state improvements far outweigh a measly tax refund that can barely afford a (craft) beer at the bar.
Either way, it’s clear that legalizing cannabis in Colorado has afforded the state many opportunities never seen before. And that includes TOO much tax revenue. Pretty sure that’s a first.

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