The town of Palisade has placed two retail marijuana questions for voters on the ballot this fall.
One question asks voters to say Yes or No on the sale of retail marijuana.
The other question asks for a Yes or No vote to raise the town’s taxes through an occupation tax on sales of retail marijuana. The amount of the tax, also described as a fee, depends on tiered system based on the amount of each sale.
See the wording below of each ballot question.
Mayor Roger Granat
Asked why the question on permitting the sale of retail marijuana was placed on the ballot by the town, Palisade Mayor Roger Granat said in a recent interview, “Just like the medicinal marijuana question (voted on by the citizens), it’s their Constitutional right. It’s important enough that it needs to be answered by the citizens.”
Granat explained, “My understanding is that if the town board didn’t put it on the ballot, it would have been put on the ballot by a citizen initiative.”
Granat said there is nothing wrong with citizen initiatives, but, he explained, many times the initiatives are worded where, for instance, a “yes” vote means a “no,” or vice versa. The board, therefore, was concerned about the wording if it didn’t put the question on the ballot.
Granat said that when voters in Colorado two years ago approved the sale of recreational marijuana, “at that time, the question before the board was, are we going to legalize it, and put it to a vote of the citizens?”
In 2012, Amendment 64 was an initiative ballot measure to amend Colorado’s Constitution, outlining a drug policy for cannabis. It passed on Nov. 6, along with a similar measure in Washington State, reports the Wikipedia on-line site. The site calls it “an electoral first not only for America but for the world.”
Following that passage, the Colorado law now addresses personal use and regulation of marijuana for adults 21 and over, as well as commercial cultivation, manufacture, and sale, regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. The first stores officially opened in some parts of the state on January 1, 2014.
Palisade retail marijuana wording
The wording of the Palisade ballot question this fall on the sale of retail marijuana is this:
Shall the establishment and operation of retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana product manufacturing facilities, retail marijuana testing facilities, and retail marijuana stores be permitted in the Town of Palisade, Colorado, subject to the requirements of the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code and regulations to be adopted by the Town of Palisade?
Yes __________ No __________
Palisade tiered tax
In the interview, Granat explained that Palisade chose a system of tiered tax amounts on the retail sales.
Under the state constitution, towns with statutory forms of government, such as Palisade, cannot charge a tax by percentage. Therefore, it chose a tiered tax system. The other form of municipal government is home rule.
Here is the ballot wording for the occupation tax on retail marijuana sales:
“SHALL THE TOWN OF PALISADE’S TAXES BE INCREASED BY $200,000.00 ANNUALLY (FIRST FULL FISCAL YEAR INCREASE) AND BY WHATEVER AMOUNTS ARE RAISED ANNUALLY THEREAFTER THROUGH THE LEVY OF AN OCCUPATION TAX IN THE AMOUNT OF $5.00 FOR EACH SALES TRANSACTION THAT IS LESS THAN $100.00, IN THE AMOUNT OF $10.00 FOR EACH SALES TRANSACTION THAT IS $100.00 OR OVER BUT LESS THAN $500.00, AND IN THE AMOUNT OF $25.00 FOR EACH SALES TRANSACTION THAT IS $500.00 OR OVER INVOLVING THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF RETAIL MARIJUANA, RETAIL MARIJUANA PRODUCTS OR RETAIL MARIJUANA ACCESSORIES BY ANY RETAIL MARIJUANA STORE, ANY RETAIL MARIJUANA CULTIVATION FACILITY AND ANY RETAIL MARIJUANA PRODUCT MANUFACTURING FACILITY WITHIN THE TOWN OF PALISADE, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2015; AND SHALL ALL REVENUES DERIVED FROM SUCH OCCUPATION TAX BE COLLECTED AND SPENT, AS A VOTER APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE, NOTWITHSTANDING ANY REVENUE OR EXPENDITURE LIMITATIONS CONTAINED IN ARTICLE X, SECTION 20, OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE 1 OF TITLE 29, COLORADO REVISED STATUTES OR ANY OTHER LAW?
The ballot questions do not relate to the sale of medical marijuana. At present, there is one medical marijuana center in business in Palisade. Granat said he would have preferred the word fee in the retail ballot question, similar to the wording for medical marijuana.
Granat said later that if the tax/fee question passes, but the retail question does not, then the fee question is mute.
In the interview, Mayor Granat said determining the amount of an annual increase in revenue from the occupation tax for the ballot question is complex. Also, the amount of potential tax revenue each year is unknown.
Granat said, however, towns that use the same type of tiered tax system have received $30,000 to $50,000.
Use of revenue?
Mayor Granat said in an email, “It would be my recommendation for the first year to put it in the reserves and build them up.”
Granat continued, “The Board of Trustees has the ability to use those for projects deemed appropriate. The first year we would be dealing with a completely unknown figure.”
Asked if the occupation tax on sale of retail marijuana is a TABOR requirement, Mayor Granat said the town attorney determined that it is not. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights calls for refunds when revenue exceeds an amount determined by a formula, according to reports.
Granat recommended that voters read the questions closely. If the voters are still unclear about them, especially about the tiered tax, he suggested that they contact town hall and the trustees. He thought, also, that an issue of the town newsletter might address the ballot items.
In an interview at town hall, Palisade Town Clerk Lindsey Chitwood said voters can read the retail marijuana questions and the entire ballot at the Mesa County website, click on Clerk and Recorder. Chitwood said the printed ballots for the Nov. 4 election will be mailed by the county the week of Oct. 13 through 17.
Chitwood explained that if Palisade voters approve the sale of retail marijuana and the tiered tax, the tax would be in addition to what the state currently taxes on retail marijuana sales. Also, retail marijuana sales in Palisade would be subject to sales tax like any retail transaction.
Chitwood said the current sales tax in Palisade is 6.9 percent. That includes 2.0 percent town tax, 2.0 percent county tax, and 2.9 percent state tax. In addition, the state currently charges 10.0 percent tax on retail marijuana sales. So, if Palisade voters approve the ballot measures, the total tax on retail marijuana sales would be 16.9 percent. The tiered tax in Palisade would be in addition to the town sales tax.
The Mesa County commissioners voted to prohibit the sale of retail marijuana in the county. De Beque was the first municipality in Mesa County to approve the sale and tax on retail/recreational marijuana.
One of the measures on the Mesa County ballot this fall is a Yes/No question for De Beque voters about imposition of an excise tax on the sale of retail marijuana and products.