Pot activists arguing that the proposed taxes on recreational marijuana in Colorado are too high announced that they will be formally launching their opposition by giving out some free joints in Denver on Monday.
The "No On Proposition AA" campaign says it will be giving out free joints to adult attendees, 21 and older, beginning at 11 a.m. in Denver's Civic Center Park where marijuana users' 4/20 event was interrupted by gunfire last April. KDVR reports that as many as 4,000 joints could be passed out during the event.
9News reporter TaRhonda Thomas tweeted this photo of the crowd gathered for the free joint giveaway:
Thomas also tweeted this shot of a bag of joints that are being dispersed:
According to a report by Westword, both the 4/20 rally and today's pot tax protest were organized by Miguel Lopez who argues that the taxes proposed under Proposition AA are higher than those for alcohol and would end up pushing users back into the black market.
From the "No On Proposition AA" press release:
Amendment 64 was sold as the "Alcohol Marijuana Equalization Initiative." Marijuana taxes should be fair and equivalent to Colorado alcohol taxes, which are less than 1%. Passage of Proposition AA creates public safety problems. A bloated and greedy government does not serve the Public Interest. The joint handout is a real-time demonstration of basic economics: Proposition AA's extreme taxes will undercut the Regulated Marijuana Market, and illegal Black Market and legal Gray Market (which is legal, but untaxed and unregulated) will both expand when the Government parasite kills the Industry host.
If approved by voters in November, Proposition AA would enact a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana and a 10 percent retail tax, imposing a total 25 percent state tax on recreational marijuana beginning in 2014. Funds from the excise tax would go to the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program while revenue from the sales tax would go toward regulatory oversight and enforcement.
If voters don't back the pot taxes this fall, State Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) told Our Colorado News that "we will have to do one of two things: Take money from education and other programs in Colorado to fund this industry, or we’ll have lackluster or lax enforcement.”
Mason Tvert, communications director at Marijuana Policy Project and one of the backers of Amendment 64, told The Huffington Post earlier this year that proponents of A64 support the 15/10 tax rate proposed:
This is a sensible tax that has been designed to cover the regulatory needs of the system. We are fully supportive of the 15/10 version of HB-1318 approved by the House, although it would be nice if the 10 percent were locked in for two years. We hope members of the Senate will give strong consideration to doing that and ensuring this new legal marijuana market has an adequate opportunity to establish itself and eliminate the underground market.
While it is legal to give out free marijuana to adults age 21 and older under Colorado's new marijuana laws, public consumption is still illegal under, and Lopez has told media that pot consumption will not be encouraged during the rally.