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Gazette Premium Content Voters across Colorado approve marijuana taxes

photo - Advocates for Proposition AA celebrated Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 after the Associated Press and the Denver Post called the vote in their favor. Rick Ridder, left, high-fived Christian Sederberg, right, at a victor party in downtown Denver. Proposition AA would impose a pair of taxes on legal marijuana sales. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Karl Gehring) + caption
Advocates for Proposition AA celebrated Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 after the Associated Press and the Denver Post called the vote in their favor. Rick Ridder, left, high-fived Christian Sederberg, right, at a victor party in downtown Denver. Proposition AA would impose a pair of taxes on legal marijuana sales. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Karl Gehring)
By Garrison Wells Updated: November 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Voters across Colorado appeared well on their way Tuesday night to passing a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana.

Proposition AA, which seeks to impose a 15 percent excise tax at the wholesale level and a 10 percent sales tax on retail sales was steaming ahead 64.8 percent to 35.2 percent by 9 p.m. with 34 of 64 counties partially counted.

Manitou Springs voters were also barreling toward the approval of an additional 5 percent sales tax on recreational pot sales with a future increase to 10 percent.

As of 9 p.m., Manitou voters favored the tax, 66 percent to 33 percent.

Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder, who was elected to a third, two-year term on Tuesday, said despite what appeared to be a landslide victory, he heard quite a bit of opposition to the proposal.

He hesitated to draw too many comparisons between the passage of Amendment 64 - which legalized recreational marijuana use in Colorado - and the passage of the retail marijuana city sales tax in Manitou Springs.

"It's hard to read the tea leaves and discern that," Snyder said. "It does seem to support, reinforce the vote of the people last November, that they were ready for legalized recreational marijuana. You could certainly interpret this to be a confirmation that still seems to be the prevailing sentiment here in Manitou Springs."

But Snyder cautioned that he first wants to see how much increase public safety costs such a business could bring to Manitou Springs before endorsing any retail marijuana sales within city limits.

"It's a very inexact science," Snyder said.

In August, the City Council delayed a decision to approve retail marijuana sales within the city until Dec. 31, so that council members could first see what potential tax revenue would be available to the city.

City Council plans to host a public comment session at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. regarding the matter. The apparent success of the measure in Manitou mirrored that of several local marijuana-tax proposals.

In Boulder and Littleton, voters were approving marijuana tax measures by similar margins. The results from pot-tax proposals in several other jurisdictions - including Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Fraser, Carbondale and Pueblo County - were not yet available.

As of 8:30 p.m., voters in Boulder were approving that city's marijuana tax proposal 68 percent to 32 percent. That measure would impose a 5 percent excise tax and a 3.5 percent sales tax.

Voters in Littleton were approving a marijuana tax measure - for a 3 percent sales tax - 63 percent to 37 percent.

Recreational marijuana sales would also be subject to standard state and local sales taxes.

The statewide approval of Proposition AA, along with the municipal tax increases, makes marijuana the most heavily taxed consumer product in the state.

All of those taxes combined could amount to a hefty chunk of the retail price. For instance, if an eighth of an ounce of marijuana - a common purchase unit that could compare to a 12-pack of beer - costs $30 at the retail level and $15 at the wholesale level, state taxes alone would be about $6, or about 20 percent.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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