EAGLE — Voters approved retail marijuana operations in the community, but they also want to see hefty taxes applied to such sales.
By only 135 votes, Eagle’s retail marijuana question was approved Tuesday night. The question of whether or not to tax retail marijuana sales was a much more popular issue for voters, who passed an up to $5 per transaction use tax on retail marijuana purchases by a more than 2-to-1 margin.
“We are just excited we can continue doing business in the town of Eagle,” said Dieneka Manzanares, owner of the Sweet Leaf Pioneer, the town’s sole medical marijuana operation. Prior to the election, the Sweet Leaf stated its plan to proceed with a dual retail/medical license if the ballot issue passed.
Manzanares noted that early election results showed the ballot issue was behind. “I am not surprised that it was close. The town of Eagle gets small when it’s an election and it’s hard getting people out to vote.”
As for the use tax question, Manzanares said residents obviously want marijuana sales to help the community.
“It will go to good use for the town, and the town can absolutely benefit from it,” she said.
Tuesday night, in addition to the Eagle use tax, Colorado voters approved Proposition AA which creates a 15 percent state excise tax on the average wholesale price of retail marijuana and a 10 percent state sales tax on retail marijuana, in addition to the existing 2.9 percent state sales tax. The first $40 million of any annual excise tax revenues will go to public school construction, and 15 percent of the revenue collected from the 10 percent state sales tax will go to cities and counties where retail marijuana sales occur. In Eagle County, Proposition AA passed with 8,143 votes in favor and 3,773 opposed.
In anticipation of the election, last month the Eagle Town Board voted on the municipal retail marijuana rules. Those regulations look a lot like the existing medical marijuana rules. Retail marijuana operations in Eagle will be confined to the same zone district — commercial general and industrial zones located east of Nogal Road. Retail marijuana businesses will have to obtain a special use permit from the town, and the number of operations will be limited to one per 5,000 residents