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Taxing Rocky Mountain high

Colorado voters approved a measure to tax recreational marijuana.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

Colorado voters approved a measure to tax recreational marijuana.

Colorado voters are rewriting the war on drugs by finding a way to take advantage of marijuana sales.

State residents approved a ballot measure to tax recreational pot by more than 25%.

Proposition AA breezed through with 65-35% of voters in favor of it–an even bigger margin than the actual legalization vote in 2012; results suggest many people who were against legalizing it ended up supporting the measure to tax weed in order to bring in money for the state.

“We are grateful voters approved funding that will allow for a strong regulatory environment, just like liquor is regulated,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in a statement on election night. “We will do everything in our power to make sure kids don’t smoke pot and that we don’t have people driving who are high. This ballot measure gives Colorado the ability to regulate marijuana properly.”

The tariff breakdown goes something like this: It imposes a 15% excise tax on marijuana wholesales, a 10% sales tax on retail purchases. Then, the state will tack on the existing state sales tax. 

One projection reported by the AP showed the new revenues could bring in nearly $70 million a year. According to one of the stipulations, a large chunk of that newly generated revenue must be put towards public school construction projects.

Opponents of the measure, which included many of those who backed pot legalization, argued the levies would encourage smokers to deal with the black market since the state allows people to grow pot at home.

Recreational pot stores will open their doors in Colorado on January 1, 2014. The state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division accepted 136 applications last month from people wanting to get in on the action and open up a recreational pot shop, The Denver Post reported.

This shift in acceptance seems to be spreading across the country. A recent Gallup poll found the majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana.