Trustees OK measure putting flat fee on pot

If approved, ballot would take effect in 2015

By Mary Shinn

The Mancos Times

Town trustees unanimously approved a ballot measure on Wednesday that would allow them to place a flat fee of up to $10 on marijuana. If the ballot measure is passed in April, the fee could take effect January 2015.

The trustees had previously discussed a tax of up to 10 percent, but the town lawyer found because Mancos is a statutory town, it can only charge a flat fee for marijuana.

The ballot measure would not lift it the moratorium on recreational marijuana

"We are putting the cart before the horse on the tax issue," Trustee Todd Kearns said.

But if the trustees did not put the measure on the ballot this April, they would have had to pay for a special election to do in November or wait for the next regular election.

Jim Cody and Nate Fete, two of the owners of Beacon Wellness Group, the medical marijuana shop in town, made the case for keeping taxes to reasonable level and ending the moratorium.

Cody said that if the moratorium was lifted, it could bring in tourists from Utah, New Mexico and Arizona and improve business overall in Mancos.

"In Mancos, the revenues are declining. Anything that we can do to bring in revenues, I say, would be a positive thing," he said.

Fete reminded the board the new industry faces hefty licensing fees and a high state tax.

The current state tax on recreational marijuana is 25 percent. Colorado voters designated 15 percent of this for school construction. Local governments get 15 percent of the remaining 10 percent back from the state. Mancos would also receive the regular 4 percent sales tax.

The moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in Mancos will lapse in June, unless it is extended. Cortez and Durango also have moratoriums on recreational marijuana.