A state ballot measure imposing special excise and sales taxes on recreational marijuana won handily in statewide voting Tuesday night. This story will be updated throughout the night.
9:20 p.m.: Latest count on Proposition AA : 668,358 in favor, 359,248 opposed.
9:12 p.m.: Results on local marijuana tax measures are beginning to come in from around the state.
Voters in Pueblo County are favoring — by 60 percent to 40 percent — a measure to impose a 3.5 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana. In a night of blowouts in favor of marijuana tax issues, that race is about the closest there is.
In Carbondale, voters are favoring their marijuana tax proposal 73 percent to 27 percent. In Fraser, voters are approving marijuana taxes 66 percent to 34 percent. And in the tiny mountain town of Red Cliff, voters are giving a thumbs-up to marijuana taxes 40 to 25. Those tallies aren't percentages; they're vote totals.
Voters in Eagle are narrowly saying no to recreational marijuana stores in their town, according to the Eagle County clerk's Twitter feed. If those stores were approved, though, voters in Eagle favor a special, local tax on them.
Results are still not available from Summit County, where voters in Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne are all deciding on recreational marijuana tax measures.
8:56 p.m.: From Brian Vicente with Yes on AA: "The passage of Proposition AA today completes the historic process of regulating and taxing marijuana in Colorado."
8:43 p.m.: "I think we played hard, fought the good fight and the yes campaign is to be congratulated, if the present trend continues," said Rob Corry, the leader of the campaign against Proposition AA.
8:22 p.m.: With more than 850,000 votes counted, Proposition AA maintained its 65 percent to 35 percent lead.
8:16 p.m.: From Mike Elliott of Medical Marijuana Industry Group: "The passage of Proposition AA means Colorado will have a strong and well-funded regulatory system."
8:02 p.m.: The Denver Post projects Proposition AA, the statewide sales and excise tax on recreational marijuana, will pass. With about 680,000 votes counted, the measure leads 65 percent to 35 percent. Its sizeable lead has remained virtually unchanged since the first results were released Tuesday night.
7:50 p.m.: With more than 680,00 votes counted, Proposition AA was leading 65 percent, or 442,271, to 35 percent, or 241,420.
With about 550,000 votes counted, Proposition AA continued to hold a 66 percent to 34 percent lead.
7:25 p.m.: Local marijuana tax measures are also faring well in early returns.
With nearly 12,000 votes counted, Boulder's pot tax measure — which would impose a 5 percent excise tax and a 3.5 percent sales tax — is leading 68 percent to 32 percent. A measure in Manitou Springs to impose a special 5 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana is leading 67 percent to 33 percent. A marijuana tax measure in Denver is also leading.
Returns from the nine other cities and counties with marijuana tax measures on the ballot are not yet available.
In Englewood, though, voters are favoring a ban on recreational marijuana shops, by 53 percent to 47 percent with 4,200 votes counted.
7:10 p.m.: Proposition AA — the measure to impose special excise and sales taxes on recreational marijuana sales in Colorado — has a sizeable lead in early returns. With nearly 350,000 votes counted, the measure is leading 66 percent to 34 percent, according to the Colorado secretary of state's office.
Earlier on Tuesday, proponents of the measure expressed confidence the taxes would pass, saying that internal polling has long showed the measure leading by a healthy margin.
Original story: Voters across Colorado on Tuesday will decide whether to make marijuana one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in the state.
Proposition AA — on the ballot statewide — would impose a 15 percent excise tax and an initial 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana.
At least a dozen cities, including Denver and Boulder, and one county, Pueblo, also have special recreational marijuana tax measures on their ballots. The local measures involve either excise taxes, sales taxes or a combination of both.
According to the state's voter guide, Proposition AA is expected to bring in $67 million a year. Of that, $27.5 million generated by the excise tax would go toward school construction, as specified in last year's constitutional amendment that legalized recreational marijuana use and also allowed for pot to be sold to anyone over 21 at specially licensed stores.
The rest of the money would go toward paying for the regulation of the pot shops, as well as any collateral impacts from marijuana legalization. Some cities, which will receive a share of the statewide sales tax on pot, are also looking at using the money for non-marijuana-related projects, such as road repairs.
Determining what the taxes would all amount to for a typical marijuana-store customer is complicated.
The excise taxes would be applied to the wholesale price of pot when it is transferred between the grow room and the showroom. Because growers and sellers must initially be part of the same company, state regulators will set a fair-market wholesale price, but they have yet to do so.
Recreational marijuana sales would also be subject to standard state and local sales taxes.
All of those taxes combined are likely to amount to a hefty chunk of the retail price. For instance, if an eighth of an ounce of marijuana — a common purchase unit that is roughly equivalent to a 12-pack of beer — costs $30 at the retail level and $15 at the wholesale level, state taxes alone would be about $6, or around 20 percent.
If all the local tax measures pass Tuesday, some areas — such as Boulder, Carbondale and Manitou Springs — would have tax rates on marijuana that exceed 30 percent, according to a Denver Post analysis. In Denver, the rate would be nearly 29 percent, or $8.59 on that $30 eighth of an ounce of pot.
John Ingold: 303-954-1068, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/john_ingold