Our view: Passing pot tax prudent move | SteamboatToday.com
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Our view: Passing pot tax prudent move

At Issue

The town of Hayden is faced with the question of whether to tax marijuana cultivation operations which, depending on the results of a Jan. 26 special election, may never come to exist

Our View

Passing the proposed marijuana tax referendum makes sense, regardless of the outcome of January’s vote

Editorial Board

Suzanne Schlicht, publisher and COO

Lisa Schlichtman, editor

Jim Patterson, assistant editor

Tom Ross, reporter

Diane Moore, community representative

Carl Steidtmann, community representative

On Nov. 3, Hayden voters will be asked to decide whether to levy an excise tax on the sale or transfer of medical and recreational marijuana by cultivation facilities that may or may not ever come to exist.

Our View

Passing the proposed marijuana tax referendum makes sense, regardless of the outcome of January’s vote

On the surface, voting to tax a product that might not be produced seems a strange way of doing things, but the situation is no less strange that the chain of events that led to it.



Here’s what happened:

On Aug. 6, the Hayden Town Council — on a 6-1 vote — passed Ordinance 666, which allows for the regulated, commercial growing of marijuana within Hayden town limits. Approval of the ordinance sparked an immediate storm of controversy which divided the town and eventually aroused a successful petition drive to take the council’s decision to the town’s electorate.



But while the petitions were still being circulated, the town council, in a logical followup to authorizing the grow operations, returned Sept. 3 and voted to place a measure on the Nov. 3 general election ballot that would tax wholesale marijuana at a rate of 7.5 percent in 2016 and up to 15 percent — at the discretion of future councils — thereafter.

The result: On Nov. 3, Hayden voters will decide whether to tax wholesale marijuana, and about three months later, on Jan. 26, they will return to decide whether to allow the cultivation of wholesale marijuana.

We are aware the issue of commercial marijuana grows has proven a divisive one for Hayden, and we recognize both sides make valid points.

Proponents said commercial grows will almost certainly be a much-needed economic boon to the town, while opponents counter that sanctioning them will work to erode the small-town atmosphere and values so many residents cherish.

Our purpose — and, indeed, our place — is not to decide whether Hayden should allow such grows.

But no matter what the town decides Jan. 26, and regardless of the town’s deeply held and conflicting opinions on the future of Ordinance 666, we encourage Hayden voters to support Referendum 2D.

Consider the possi-

bilities.

If the recall were to pass in January, the outcome of the earlier 2D vote would be rendered moot; commercial marijuana grows would not be legal, hence, there would be nothing to tax.

No harm; no foul.

But if the recall were to fail, an earlier “no” vote on 2D would become anything but moot. In that scenario, the town of Hayden would find itself in the unenviable position of being home to a highly lucrative industry it has no mechanism by which to tax.

Another way of looking at it is to imagine the election order were reversed, that the recall vote came before the vote on 2D. In that scenario, were the recall to pass, 2D would become irrelevant. But were the recall to fail — if commercial marijuana grows were on their way to Hayden no matter what — we think even those who opposed allowing them in the first place would be more than willing to tax them, perhaps more stringently than those who had supported them.

Ultimately, the question of whether to allow commercial marijuana grow operations in Hayden is up to the people of Hayden, and this is as is should be.

But given the possibility the recall may fail and commercial grows may be on their way to Hayden in the near future, we think it makes sense to have a mechanism in place to tax such grows to the common — and potentially great — benefit of all Hayden residents.

Passing Referendum 2D will establish that mechanism, and we encourage the voters of Hayden to do so.


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