Oct 18, 2010 7:45 PM by David Ortiviz

Medical marijuana tax issue on Pueblo ballot

Voters in Pueblo will decide if medical marijuana users should pay an extra 4.3% in sales tax. The city says the tax could be used to help pay for increased law enforcement near dispensaries, but some argue it isn't needed. News First 5 is taking a closer look at ballot Question No. 2A.

A "yes" vote on Question No. 2A would impose an extra 4.3% tax on the purchase of medical marijuana and its paraphernalia. Voting "no", means the city would collect only the regular sales tax of about 7.5%.

If approved, revenues from the marijuana tax would go into the city's general fund. City council president Larry Atencio who supports 2A, says council could possibly use the money to beef up police patrols around dispensaries. Law enforcement has expressed concerns about increased crime in those areas. "We're acting proactively in terms of having the financial wherewithall to deal with it, if there is in fact more increased activity," said Atencio.

Some, however call the tax unreasonable. "Taxing just to be taxing is just wrong," wrote Gregg on our News First 5 Facebook page. Another fan, Jeremy says: "We should tax pharmaceuticals at the same rate. It's medicine."

The city estimates it would collect $500,000 the first year the tax is collected--based on 10 medical marijuana centers being open in Pueblo. Right now the city has none.

Two businesses, Marisol Health Solutions and Quality Wellness Center have submitted applications to open centers on the 2700 block of Farabaugh Ln. on Pueblo's southside. However, city ordinaces don't allow dispensaries within a thousand feet of each other--so only one can open at that site, if they meet all the requirements.

In July, Pueblo City Council adopted tough zoning laws which prohibit medical marijuana centers from setting up shop throughout most of the city. They have to be at least 250 ft. away from homes and even further from schools, bars and public buildings.

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