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Broomfield examines approach to marijuana sales tax

Broomfield City Council continued its conversation on whether to allow a ban on marijuana sales to expire and if so, how to take the issue of taxing those sales to voters in November.

Council, for the most part, seemed in favor of letting the ban on medical and recreational marijuana stores expire, but continuing the ban on cultivation and manufacturing facilities.

The ban is set to expire Feb. 21.

Mayor Patrick Quinn summarized comments from council members, who seemed in favor of a 3 to 5% sales tax on top of Broomfield’s existing 4.15% tax.

The question of whether to increase that rate over time got mixed reactions, with some saying yes, but cap it at 10% and other council members preferring to leave that vote to a future council.

Courtney Thiemann, assistant city and county attorney, said if Broomfield does allow for the sale, manufacture, or cultivation of marijuana in Broomfield, they do get a kickback from the state tax. Ten percent of the total amount goes to municipalities that allow marijuana within their city, she said.

Her presentation broke down how other municipalities manage the taxes, which vary from 1% to 17 or 18% taxes. The most common is 5%, she said. Denver had its initially set at 5%, but allows up to 15% in the future. Funds from those taxes also vary, from education and weed-specific issues to enforcement and general funds.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Jean Lim wondered what research exists that looks at whether not taxing medical marijuana ends up encouraging fraudulent prescriptions. She also asked whether the math was the same when it came to the difference between adding a marijuana sales tax or separating it from the general sales tax.

City and County Manager Jennifer Hoffman said the more taxes that go to different coffers, the more complex the back-end of the distribution will be.

Other council members suggested tax proceeds go toward Broomfield’s Health and Human Services Department, mental health services, early childhood education or a possible “rainy day” fund.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans expressed an extreme concern about youth use of marijuana in Broomfield, which she said she will expound upon during the public hearing, but said for now it needs to be factored into the equation.