Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Colorado's fine to fund marijuana regs after all

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Phyllis Resnick
  • Colorado State University
  • Phyllis Resnick

A recent study from the Colorado Futures Center — a Denver-based public-policy research arm of Colorado State University — caused a bit of a fuss when it was released in April. In the estimating of how much tax revenue the state of Colorado might expect, authors Charles Brown and Phyllis Resnick found that it was possible the money collected would be insufficient to properly fund industry regulation.

"The latest research just confirms that marijuana proponents' promises to Colorado voters that Amendment 64 would be a financial gain to the state were empty," the Denver Post quoted anti-marijuana activist Diane Carlson, one of Smart Colorado's directors, as saying. "Even if voters approve the recreational-marijuana tax, the new pot market could be a net drain on the state's budget, the study indicates. That means funds for education, roads and other top priorities could be diverted to marijuana regulation."

During the city of Colorado Springs' own debate over recreational marijuana, multiple people — including leadership in the Colorado Springs Police Department, as well as Springs resident Jo McGuire, a member of Gov. John Hickenlooper's original task force on Amendment 64 — have cited the Futures Center's study as proof that RMJ is too risky to wade into.

Well, in a recent interview with the Independent, Resnick says that, while there are probably things the state should have required, what it did end up requiring is likely fundable.

"Unfortunately, that was a finding that I think was misinterpreted on our part," says the economist. "When we wrote our paper, the Legislature hadn’t passed the bill with all the regulations in it yet. And we were working off the governor’s task-force recommendations, which had far broader recommendations, not only for regulation, but public health studies, and law enforcement studies, and a whole bunch of ancillary services around reporting, and everything else.

"I think in the time that passed, between when we wrote our piece and when the final bill came out, they paired down what they are absolutely gonna require for the state, in terms of regulation, and I think they took out a bunch of those studies and some of the other more broader looks at the impact of marijuana.

"And so, given that, probably there is enough money there to just fund the straight regulation. But we’re not convinced that there’s enough there to fund all the other things that were recommended, and some of which we probably should be doing ..."

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