Adams may have to re­pay $1.36M

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jesse Paul

Adams County has col­lected more than $1.36 mil­lion through a 3 per­cent tax on recre­ational mar­i­juana sales that the Colorado Court of Ap­peals found to be in­valid.

The voter-ap­proved tax gen­er­ated $293,875 in the last six months of 2015 and $1,070,557 so far this year that may have to be re­funded.

The Colorado Court of Ap­peals ruled Thurs­day that the tax is in­valid, rev­ers­ing a lower court de­ci­sion and sid­ing with the cities of North­glenn, Aurora and Com­merce City, which sued over the tar­iff.

That leaves all of the money col­lected by the tax in limbo — in­clud­ing more than $500,000 ear­marked for col­lege schol­ar­ships for un­der­priv­i­leged stu­dents — while the county de­cides what to do next.

Adams County in­cluded $1.2 mil­lion in pro­jected rev­enues from the tax in its 2017 bud­get, an­tic­i­pat­ing new recre­ational mar­i­juana shops open­ing in Thorn­ton.

The cities had ini­tially sued in district court, claim­ing Adams County didn’t have the au­thor­ity un­der state law to tax a sin­gle prod­uct. Cou­pled with their own taxes on pot, the cities ar­gued that an ad­di­tional county levy put re­tail cannabis re­tail­ers in their ju­ris­dic­tions at a com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage.

A judge ruled in Adams County’s fa­vor in fall of 2015, and the cities ap­pealed. The county be­gan col­lect­ing the tax in July 2015.

A county spokesman said the schol­ar­ships that have been awarded will not be af­fected. Of­fi­cials don’t know how quickly the county will stop col­lect­ing the tax.

A de­ci­sion on how to re­spond won’t be made un­til at least Jan. 3, when the county com­mis­sion meets. The county could file an ap­peal with the Colorado Supreme Court, which might stay Thurs­day’s rul­ing.

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