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Pot Money: Give To Taxpayers Or Let Colorado Keep It?

DENVER (CBS4)- What to do with all the money made from marijuana sales? That's being debated at the state Capitol.

Lawmakers want voters to decide on whether the $58 million in marijuana tax revenue, projected to bring in this fiscal year, will be refunded to Colorado taxpayers or kept by the State of Colorado.

Under TABOR, or the Taxpayer Bill Of Rights, the money must be refunded. Unless voters allow the state to keep it.

Legal Sale Of Recreational Marijuana Begins In Colorado money
(credit; CBS)

The proposal at the state Capitol states if voters allow Colorado to keep the money, $40 million will go to school construction, $12 million would be designated to help at-risk children, prevent drug abuse and train law enforcement, $6 million would help repay a loan from the general fund for things like pot regulation.

If voters decide to keep the money, much of it goes back to those who paid the taxes. The excise tax dollars, about $20 million, would be refunded to marijuana growers, $13 million would be returned as a temporary sales tax reduction for consumers of pot and $25 million would be refunded as an income tax credit for all taxpayers, amounting to less than $5 a person.

"It's not a lot of money, maybe buy you lunch but will build a lot of schools," said Sen. Pat Steadman, a Democrat representing Denver. "One of the things we've tried to do with this bill is make clear to voters what are the consequences of your decision this November."

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Steadman authored the bill that it getting its first floor debate on Thursday night. The bill also asks voters to approve a reduction in the sales tax rate on retail marijuana from 10 percent to eight percent starting in July 2017.

Steadman said the hope is to encourage those who are still buying pot on the street because it's cheaper, to move to the legal market.

The measure was approved by the state House on Thursday night. After one more House vote, the measure heads to the Senate.

If the bill passes, it will be on November's ballot as Proposition BB.

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