More than 70 percent of voters in both Frisco and Breckenridge supported ballot questions proposing 5 percent excise taxes on the sale of medical marijuana.

“I’m very pleased that it passed,” Frisco Mayor Bill Pelham said of the town’s ballot question. “I think it was a worthwhile initiative. It’s something that’s going to be very worthwhile for the community.”

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Both towns said the taxes were needed to help offset the administrative, legal and enforcement costs brought on by the centers and the still-changing regulations on medical marijuana coming down from the state and federal levels.

In Frisco, roughly 74 percent of the 650 votes cast were in favor of an excise tax.

With more than 780 votes cast, more than 73 percent of Breckenridge voters backed the tax measure.

“It’s good news,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said of the election results Tuesday. “I appreciate the voters supporting our thought process behind the excise tax. The money will be put to good use.”

In Breckenridge, the tax is expected to bring in close to $58,000 a year in addition to the approximately $25,000 the town already collects in sales tax on the roughly $1 million collective annual sales at Breckenridge’s seven medical marijuana dispensaries.

The ballot questions for both towns stated the measure could bring in approximately $75,000 annually.

Not everyone was thrilled with the result. Breckenridge’s medical marijuana retailers expressed surprise at the voters’ decision, given the community’s overwhelming support for marijuana issues in the past.

“I don’t know what to think,” said Charlie Williams, owner of Alpenglow Botanicals in Breckenridge. “I don’t. I look at Breck specifically and that’s about the percentage that voted to legalize marijuana, whether it was medical or otherwise. I just truly don’t know what to think. I am surprised to see that kind of number supported.”

But Frisco’s medical marijuana center owner said he was optimistic the tax would help build bridges between the medical marijuana center and its patients and the community at large.

“I hope that the community uses this excise tax to improve relations and understandings with medical marijuana, people’s uses of it and the needs it addresses for Coloradans, while also helping make it safe,” said Jerry Olson, owner of Medical Marijuana of the Rockies. “It is a little bit sad for the patients who are struggling with their illnesses and medical bills to have to pay an extra tax for others to have that security. But myself as a patient, I am willing to sacrifice that in order to have the communion of both sides coming together.”

Breckenridge and Frisco are not the first communities in Colorado to approve medical marijuana excise taxes.

Fruita, a Western Slope city of approximately 11,000, approved a similar 5 percent excise tax on the sale of marijuana for medical purposes last year. Oakland Calif. and Los Angeles have also approved tax levies, according to Breckenridge documents.

Voters legalized marijuana for medical use in Colorado in 2000, and the Town of Breckenridge decriminalized the herb in 2008.

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The taxes will go into effect in January.

Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2011 Summit Daily News
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Website: Breckenridge Summit County Colorado | SummitDaily.com News