Hundreds of people lined up at Denver’s Civic Center on Monday morning for a free pot giveaway intended to protest a statewide ballot issue to tax retail cannabis.
A group who says the plant should not be taxed gave joints to adults with legal identification as a means to raise awareness about their opposition to Amendment AA, which will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.
“It is legal to hand out marijuana to people in Colorado and it is legal to do it without paying a penny in taxes!” said Rob Corry, co-author of the Amendment 64 that legalized cannabis statewide last November and co-organizer of the protest.
The tax measure would levy a 15 percent excise tax and an initial 10 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis. The excise tax was touched upon in Amendment 64. However, to be in compliance with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, it must be decided via a separate vote.
Denver voters also will be voting on whether or not to add a 3.5 percent initial municipal sales tax that could get raised as high as 15 percent.
“Amendment 64 was sold as the ‘Alcohol Marijuana Equalization Initiative,’” say the protesters in an e-mail publicizing their event. “Marijuana taxes should be fair and equivalent to Colorado alcohol taxes, which are less than 1 percent. Passage of Proposition AA creates public safety problems. A bloated and greedy government does not serve the public interest.”
Denver city attorney Doug Friednash said a free giveaway is legal according to state and city laws, as long as it is not sold and the cannabis is exchanged between people at least 21 years old. It is not legal to smoke the plant in public, but police made no obvious efforts to stop those who did.