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Error in Colorado Spending Bill Prevents Museums and Zoos From Receiving Cannabis Tax Revenue

Lawmakers made a drafting error while scrambling to pass the bill.

by Chris Moore

Ever since legalizing recreational cannabis in 2012, the state of Colorado has been raking in millions of dollars in tax revenue every year, which it has been using to fund schools, museums, and other essential state services. But due to an error in a recent spending bill, museums, zoos, and dozens of other arts and cultural institutions have found themselves cut off from hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in marijuana tax revenue.

Senate Bill 267, passed during the final days of the 2017 legislative session, increases funding for hospitals, schools, and transportation. The bill also eliminates the state's 2.9% sales tax on recreational pot, while increasing the special cannabis sales tax from 10 to 15 percent. But when legislators scrambled to revise and pass the bill before the close of the session, a drafting error was made in the bill. This error unfortunately prevents cannabis tax revenue from being directed to state-funded institutions like the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

The SCFD funds organizations like the Denver Botanical Gardens, the Denver Zoo, and the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. The RTD, the state's public transportation system, was counting on $500,000 a month in cannabis tax revenue, which it is now unable to collect because spending bill gaffe. If legislators wait until the next legislative session in January to correct the problem, the agency could lose out on over $3 million in funding.

State Senator Lucia Guzman, one of bill’s sponsors, suggested calling a special legislative session to correct the problem.

“It’s a situation that was a horrible oversight, and we feel horrible about it and we’ll get it back on track,” she said. “We have to do everything we can.” 


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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.



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