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Colorado cannabis tax incentive for others to follow suit: pot advocate Brian Vicente

02/06/2015 02:39 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT
Colorado has a unique problem: tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana has filled state coffers, and now the government has to return some of that money to taxpayers.

The cannabis tax generated around $50 million in 2014. Under legislation known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), the government may have to refund nearly $30 million.

"It's sort of an interesting bind for the legislature, but I think it speaks to the innovative thinking going on here," Brian Vicente, the Executive Director for Sensible Colorado told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"There (are) a lot of places that are having budget crunches, and in Colorado we've taken this bold step forward and taxed and regulated this product, and it really seems to be helping our state out quite a bit."

The Colorado legislature is still figuring out what refunding the money will look like. Everyone who pays taxes could get a cheque, but some of the money may also go into education or other public projects.

In 2013, the advocacy group Sensible B.C. failed to trigger a referendum to legalize marijuana in British Columbia. Vicente said supporters shouldn't give up.

"I just encourage them to be tenacious. We've had failed policies around drugs for a really long time, but there's no reason those can't change," he said.

"I think this is part of a global revolution where people are rethinking the cannabis policies and they need to try to work with elected officials and to work with voters to try to push these policies forward."

To hear the full interview with Brian Vicente, click the audio labelled: Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente on the tax dollars from cannabis.

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