A Few Words For Proposition AA Pothead Hypocrites

TUESDAY UPDATE: We received this response from Mason Tvert, one of the principal organizers of the Amendment 64 campaign, denouncing Robert Corry's Proposition AA antics:

My name is Mason Tvert, I was one of the two official proponents of Amendment 64, and I co-directed the campaign in support of the initiative. Rob Corry has repeatedly exaggerated his role in the drafting of Amendment 64 and the Yes on 64 campaign, and to point to him as an example of the campaign being hypocritical is unfair.

The two primary drafters of the initiative, Brian Vicente (who was also a proponent and campaign co-directr) and Steve Fox, are supporting Prop. AA, as am I and my current organization, the Marijuana Policy Project, which was the largest financial backer of the Yes on 64 campaign. It is also worth noting that Rob Corry is hardly representative of the "marijuana industry," whereas the Medical Marijuana Industry Group is by definition representative of the industry – and it is fully in support of Prop. AA.

The proponents of Amendment 64, the primary drafters of 64, the Yes on 64 campaign's management, and the Yes on 64 campaign's primary financial backers are all in support of Prop. AA. They also were in support of the 15-10 tax plan and helped push it through the legislature. Thus, it would be appreciated if you would stop pointing to the actions of one individual who played a very minimal role in the 64 campaign and suggesting it reflects the positions of the 64 campaign. There is no group of people working harder to pass Prop. AA than those who ran the Yes on 64 campaign, as we believe its passage is critical to the successful implementation of the initiative.

If Corry really doesn't speak for the pro-Amendment 64 campaign, we're delighted to stand corrected–and we hope media outlets will make this distinction in the future as well.

—–

Robert Corry.

Robert Corry.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Amy Bounds reports:

Those opposing a marijuana sales tax ballot question are looking to replicate a successful campaign event in Denver by handing out free joints at 11 a.m. Monday on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall…

“Boulder has been victimized by floods,” said Rob Corry, who helped organize the event and hopes to defeat Proposition AA, a statewide pot tax measure. “We want to bring some flood relief to folks.”

…Corry, who helped draft Amendment 64, [Pols emphasis] which legalized the sale of recreational pot to adults, called it the biggest tax increase in state history. He said it would create a “dysfunctional” market.

Robert Corry, longtime local pro-marijuana attorney and sometime associate of the right-wing Independence Institute, was indeed a major supporter of Amendment 64. Amendment 64, in turn, was sold to the public as a revenue-generating measure in addition to saner criminal justice policy. Don't take our word for it, here's how they said it themselves:

a64protax

Bottom line: the only difference between the revenue measure Amendment 64 Corry wrote and sold the public on in 2012, and Proposition AA, is a 5-10% additional sales tax. The fifteen percent excise tax on retail marijuana, as well as the 2.9% sales tax all goods sold in Colorado are taxed at, were benefits that Corry and friends promoted with when the initiative passed last fall. If Proposition AA fails, it's unclear what might happen–some say Proposition AA was forced by the language in Amendment 64 not being in compliance with the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, others insist to us that the legislature could pass under the authority granted in Amendment 64 the 15% excise tax without Proposition AA.

Either way, marijuana legalization was sold to the public as a way to generate revenue for education, promising to "regulate marijuana like alcohol." Alcohol, tobacco, and other such vices are subjected to much higher taxes than other products. It would be absurd for marijuana to not be similarly taxed to other such vices. For Robert Corry to turn around and try to kill the taxes that resulted in many "yes" votes on Amendment 64 is exactly the bad faith outgoing Senate President John Morse warned of when he tried to link passage of these taxes to allowing retail marijuana stores to open in January. You'll recall this was the short-lived legislation which prompted the Marijuana Policy Project to attack Morse, an attack that was eagerly served up by opportunistic Republicans to liberal voters in Morse's district. As you can see today, Morse was right.

And if the marijuana industry wants to show responsibility instead of looking like a bunch of untrustworthy freeloaders, they'll drop Corry and his disreputable antics like a hot brick.

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29 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    As supporter of Amendment 64, I think the argument that taxes will "drive it back to the black market" are ridiculous. People will pay the price for legal weed, just like for legal booze or cigarettes. Corry is making enemies and showing that he can't be trusted, and that's not what the marijuana movement needs!

    • ClubTwitty says:

      I disagree. The market, buyers and sellers, for recreational pot is already well established.  Its not street corner stuff, its the neighbor down the street.  It does matter where the final price point lands, that is if prices drop with legalization there is more room for tax; but why would someone pay $260 for an oz that they can buy from a known friend/trusted source today (and tomorrowt) for $200, or grow their own?  They won't.

      • bullshit!bullshit! says:

        The Pols point out that most of the taxes were already in Amendment 64? Did you think this was a problem then? If so, Why didn't you vote against Amendment 64?

        I think people want to have this both ways, and that's wrong. Legality is too worth something.

        • ClubTwitty says:

          Don't conflate me with the guy in the article.  I voted for A64 because I want to help prioritize law enforcement funding toward real crime.  My point above is simply that the final price point will matter. 

          If prices decrease thru legalization by 20 – 25% then a 27.5% total tax rate would probably work.  If prices only decline by 10% I doubt it.  Not everywhere in Colorado is going to have retail stores.  In fact, few places are.  Are you suggesting someone in GJ will drive an hour and a half to Glenwood to pay 10% more than they would down the street from their buddy?  I don't think so, and that's my point. 

  2. DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

    I'm not sure you can claim hypocrisy without examining the proposed taxation and regulatory scheme for marijuana compared to alcohol.  Is booze subject to this level of taxation?  I believe the answer is no.  There certainly are no such restricitions on its sale within a set distance from schools and childcare facilities.  You also can't grow a Jack Daniels tree in your basement.

    I do think there are significant black market concerns.  I don't think legalization is going to expand the market much (except for pot tourists) because the current MMJ system is a joke.  Anyone who wants weed can get it.  I've talked to patients with red cards who've told me the doctor who approved them "doesn't touch patients", or conducts group sessions after which everyone gets their paperwork approved.  I've got a bunch of chronic (no pun intended) aches and pains which I'm sure could qualify me if I wanted to.

    If retail recreational weed ends up significantly more expensive because of the taxes, enterprising stoners will just opt for the red card or the grey market.  This isn't that difficult an economics question, and I think the taxation levels sound a bit high (this stuff just writes itself.)  There's a sweet spot where taxation doesn't drive everyone into the black market, and I think this has missed the mark.

    • n3bn3b says:

      Potheads aren't so high that they're willing to be fleeced. Excellent points.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      I think that as long as taxation doesn't make it significantly more expensive than on the black market it will be fine. Even though most smokers know how to get pot without too much trouble and from perfectly non-scary people, as many who are already going the medical route will tell you, it's a lot more convenient to shop at a well run, well organized shop than to rely on often flaky friends and contacts. 

      It's nice to have all kinds of quality product to choose from available in one place, with many convenient locations available and at your convenience during regular business hours, confident that there isn't going to be problem.  

      And, like all retail businesses, there are sales, loss leaders, that kind of thing. Good deals will be available just as they are at department stores.As with other retail, there's a lot of competition for the consumer dollar in a tough economy. I'm sure it will be the same with recreational shops when they join the medical shops.  I don't think the proponents should be having such fits over taxation.

      • bullshit!bullshit! says:

        Agreed, especially since most of the taxes were already in Amendment 64. This is dirty pool.

      • ajb says:

        I agree.

        It's largely a matter of convenience. Sure, you can grow your own. You can brew your own beer, too, but most people don't. I suspect that both take about the same investment and amount of work. 

        And once the market opens up, competition will drive the price down. It's just not that hard to grow pot. Once the price drops to about $100/oz, then the tax on a quarter is a few bucks. How far are you going to go out of your way for that? It's not worth the gas money.

         

        • DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

          I think the market is as open as it's going to get, and the competition on price has already occurred.  I don't think there's a huge number of recreational users who will suddenly flock to the market 

          • Smoking MirrorSmoking Mirror says:

            You've got your economics backwards on this.  A huge number of recreational users flocking to the market would drive prices up.  Agreed that is not likely to happen.  I do believe it is more likely to see many more suppliers, which would drive prices down, which is what ajb is suggesting, I believe.

            All that being said, I would expect all sin taxes to be somewhat equitable.  I do not know the tax levels on alcohol and tobacco (although I have heard that alcohol taxes are low).  Does anyone have data?

  3. kwtreemamajama55 says:

    Like widgets? See CSU's Amendment 64 calculator:

    The point of this is that the numbers can be played with. There is so much money to be made from legal marijuana that lobbyists  have severe  cottonmouth from all the drooling. My question is how will the additional revenue be used?

    Educators are pretty wary of claims that this revenue will raise money for education. We've heard that before (remember Amendment 23?) Amendment 23 funds were actually diverted to highway funds, breaking the promise made to voters, and per pupil funding went down.

    Since passage of Amendment 64 has, in my experience, meant slightly more students coming to class stoned, or ditching class to get high, it's only fair that there be some real positive impacts on education, as well.

  4. n3bn3b says:

    Marijuana users just don't want to be singled out for exorbitant taxation. I say kudos to them.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      That's cute. Trying to make wacko rightiness appealing to the pot smoking demo on the basis of this single tax issue Nice try, dear. Don't look for a lot of carry over to your other wacko rightie issues.

  5. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    same as alcohol….how hard is that?

  6. ColoRabble says:

    My name is Mason Tvert, I was one of the two official proponents of Amendment 64, and I co-directed the campaign in support of the initiative. Rob Corry has repeatedly exaggerated his role in the drafting of Amendment 64 and the Yes on 64 campaign, and to point to him as an example of the campaign being hypocritical is unfair.

    The two primary drafters of the initiative, Brian Vicente (who was also a proponent and campaign co-directr) and Steve Fox, are supporting Prop. AA, as am I and my current organization, the Marijuana Policy Project, which was the largest financial backer of the Yes on 64 campaign. It is also worth noting that Rob Corry is hardly representative of the "marijuana industry," whereas the Medical Marijuana Industry Group is by definition representative of the industry – and it is fully in support of Prop. AA.

    The proponents of Amendment 64, the primary drafters of 64, the Yes on 64 campaign's management, and the Yes on 64 campaign's primary financial backers are all in support of Prop. AA. They also were in support of the 15-10 tax plan and helped push it through the legislature. Thus, it would be appreciated if you would stop pointing to the actions of one individual who played a very minimal role in the 64 campaign and suggesting it reflects the positions of the 64 campaign. There is no group of people working harder to pass Prop. AA than those who ran the Yes on 64 campaign, as we believe its passage is critical to the successful implementation of the initiative.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      My thanks to you Mr. Tvert, not only for clarifying this here– but also for your work on behalf of both of the Amendment and the Proposition. Again, thank you. 

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      In view of this post, Pols, maybe an update on your headline is appropriate…eh?

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      Mason, I want to thank you for stepping up and correcting the record. I for one am really glad to see you and the responsible industry are supporting Proposition AA.

    • CaninesCanines says:

      True, the industry is in support of the tax. However, I see that the Colorado chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a consumer organization, is against it:

      1. Measure AA is excessive taxation on marijuana consumers that does not uphold the promise of Amendment 64 to treat marijuana like alcohol. The proposed marijuana taxes could amount to an effective tax rate of 30-40% ultimately passed on to marijuana consumers in Colorado. This rate is more than twice the equivalent taxes on alcohol. While we can support the 15% excise tax portion of Measure AA, included in the language of Amendment 64, we feel that the addition by the Colorado Legislature of a 10% "Special Sales Tax" on marijuana was unreasonable and unnecessary.

      2. We believe that if Measure AA fails, there will still be adequate funds to effectively regulate recreational marijuana. We believe our state and local regulators can and should meet the challenge of marijuana regulation through the efficient management of their budgeted funds.

      3. Excessive taxation under Measure AA, along with the decision of many local jurisdictions to "opt-out" of Amendment 64's business licensing provisions, has the potential effect to keep a black market for marijuana alive in Colorado. In addition to rejecting excessive taxation, Colorado NORML calls on local governments to reconsider their decision to ban the regulated retail sale of marijuana in their community. We believe that banning retail sales at the local level only denies the safe access to marijuana by consumers in their communities, and only serves to support the operation of unregulated local black markets for marijuana.

  7. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    So ColoradoPols is now against incrementalism?  I'm eager to see if this opposition is applied to other subjects going forward. 

  8. ClubTwitty says:

    I don't really have an opinion yet on A66.  I do think that taxes need to result in a price point that is close to current prices or most recreational users will continue to get their pot from where they have been, probably for many years, which results in no state revenue. 

  9. Kathleen Chippi says:

    A64 was a SCAMpaign from the start.  Listen to the Title Board hearing yourself.  I filed a complaint over false marketing to the voters with DA Stan Garnett–he did nothing.  

    and here was a post I made way back in Feb 2012–yes 2012 not 2013, when A64 was still I30.  Read AL the quotes–very telling….

    Do you feel you were mislead to believe I30 would raise $ for schools and regulate like alcohol?

    Below are quotes from the original I30 title board hearing for I30  that prove the proponents know their language will NOT legalize marijuana like alcohol but more like medical marijuana (over regulated)and to put it in the title would be confusing to voters.

    And if you listen to the hearing yourself, you will hear how the 40 million in taxes for schools will not happen if this passes.  The proponents explain how I30 is not TABOR compliant now because the tax will have to be another campaign altogether that would have to be TABOR compliant and NO they do not say they intend to fund or run this , sometime in the future, but not before 2017, campaign.  The title board is clear —  THERE IS NO GUARANTEE excise tax will EVER be collected for schools or anything else, just like there is no guarantee hemp will be legal. 

     

    The language is too GREY.  The sad thing is it is intentional and you will see that as you read the quotes below.  The other sad thing is that they then LIED to the VOTERS to get them to sign.  Now everyone thinks it will be legal like alcohol, hemp will be legal and schools will get 40 million in taxes–NONE of which is guaranteed by the language.  Did anyone hear ANY TRUTHFUL marketing of this language–and if so please get in touch with me. 

    Complaints can be filed here:  http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/PetitionEntities/forms/petition_entity_complaint_form.pdf

    6-15-11  2:02pm – Original Title Board Hearing for "Regulate Marijuana"

    Bill Hobbs-Deputy Sec of State

    Dan Dominico- Attorney Generals Office

    Jason Gelender- Senior Attorney Office of Legal Counsel

    Mason Tvert- Proponent

    Steve Fox-Director of Public Relations Marijuana Policy Project, DC (on behalf of proponent Brian Vicente)

    Mr. Ramie-Proponents Attorney

    minute 50:55 seconds 

    Mr. Ramie, "I think it would work if we deleted the word, starting on line 1, with legalization."

    1 hour, 15 minutes, 46 seconds

    Mr. Fox, "Tomatoes are legal.  You can buy them anywhere.  Tomatoes have been legalized.  But as you've seen with the medical marijuana system, it is a highly regulated (emphasis added) system by a regulatory agency and that is what we're proposing.  I appreciate that you prefer marijuana over legalization because legalization would be truly misleading as a part of the title."

    1 hour, 18 minutes, 11 seconds

    Mason Tvert, "This notion of using the term legalization, which is incredibly subjective, in fact is highly debated."

    1 hour, 18 minutes, 42 seconds

    Mason Tvert, " If the point here is to be accurate and to make this as accurate and objective as possible, it would seem that  simply saying legalization, which could mean a broad variety of things, compared with regulation and personal use was more specific in our opinion."

    1 hour, 21 minutes, 48 seconds

    Steve Fox (on behalf of Brian Vicente), "I mean she made our point better than we have, which is legalization is not what this is.  She said it clearly and they are going to propose an initiative regarding the legalization of marijuana.  What we are doing is regulating marijuana.  It's a significant legal difference and it would be inaccurate to call it legalization."

    1 hour, 31 minutes, 28 seconds

    Mr. Hobbs (about adding "like alcohol" to the title) "I would be troubled by that…strictly speaking there are some deviations.  It's similar to alcohol but it is not the same."

    "I agree with you that it may be misleading." response from either Galenger or Dominco.

    1 hour, 37minutes, 15 seconds

    Mr. Hobbs "For me personally, when I was looking at this, I thought the most important thing, if I am interpreting the measure correctly, is that local governments can prohibit all of these things within their jurisdiction.  Um. And I thought that was really a significant thing."

    1 hour, 53 minutes, 40 seconds

    Mr. Ramie, "It seemed important for us……and then employers may place restrictions on the use of marijuana by employee's. "

    1 hour, 56 minutes, 6 seconds

    Mr. Fox, "We, based on experience, know during the campaign, that there will be exaggerations about what our initiative will and won't do on the driving side and the employer side and so on.  And we wanted to have this language in there so that people know…… that employers still have the right to do things."  (FIRE YOU and you will get no UN-employment check from the state)

    2 hour, 3 minutes, 38 seconds

    Mr. Dominico, " I just wanted to raise the fact that even if this passes, we're not technically permitting a person 21 or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana.  We're just saying the state won't prosecute you."

    2 hours, 6 minutes, 44 seconds

    Mr. Ramie, "We are requiring the implementation of a licensing facility, if you will, a process to get a license.  We're not requiring the granting of a license."

    7-6-2011  Title Board Re-Hearing I30

    minute 19, 58 seconds,

    Kathleen Chippi, "I think that saying to the average voter, the average citizen of the state that we are regulating it like alcohol is deceitful….  Mason has publicly announced that since we already have a medical marijuana program set up by the state and an enforcement division by the state that we would just use that medical marijuana model."

    minute 23, 48 seconds

    Laura Kriho,  "It's a catch phrase and the proponents admit it's a catch phrase.  Where the confusion to the voters would come in is and it's really hard to understand unless you've been through the whole medical marijuana thing wheremedical marijuana was sold to us as the state of Colorado as being legal, and that it was going to help patients and since the General Assembly has gotten a hold of it over the past  2 years, we've seen incredible restrictions and incredible laws that were never foreseen before because everybody thought , oh, this is liberalizing it, this is legalizing it.  Well you heard the proponents here on June 15 arguing yourself that this is not liberalizing or legalizing it, this is restricting it. And anything other than that in the ballot title will be misleading to the voters."

    minute 26,  26 seconds

    Mr. Ramie, "The last thing the proponents want to do ……is to do anything that would mislead anybody or have anything in the title that might arguably be misleading to any of the voters."

    minute 29, 10 seconds

    Mr. Ramie, "If there is a concern "in a manner similar to alcohol"suggests it would be legal at all levels, a, we don't want to have that concern out there…from our prospective, a, we would, it would be acceptable to us in all 8 of the titles to drop the words "in a manner similar to alcohol."

    minute 32, 10 seconds

    Mr. Ramie, "I'm hearing allot of objection and I can't honestly say that the objections that I'm hearing are completely crazy or off the wall and I know Mr. Hobbs has heard me for many years that the objections are without merit, I really can't say that for these…So lets take the phrase out.  And if we want to present the message in campaigning, where we can do that, we'll do it-but we absolutely do not want to have something floating around in the title that could either be characterized as a catch phrase and tilt the argument one way or the other in the official title or have anything in there that can mislead the voters."

    Mr. Ramie, "Exactly, and if we're suggesting "in a manner similar to alcohol", if that phrase, and I see how it could, carry the suggestion that we're now wholey legal on all levels, we don't want to suggest that because we're not."

    Mr Hobbs, "And I agree with you, it's a good faith argument that they have made here."

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