Colorado's marijuana experiment was designed to raise revenue for the state and its schools, but a state law may put some of the tax money directly into residents' pockets, causing quite a headache for lawmakers. The state constitution limits how much tax money the state can take in before it has to give some back. That means Coloradans may each get their own cut of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes collected in the first year of legal weed. It's a situation so bizarre that it's gotten Republicans and Democrats, for once, to agree on a tax issue.
Even some pot shoppers are surprised Colorado may not keep the taxes that were promised to go toward school construction when voters legalized marijuana in 2012. "I have no problem paying taxes if they're going to schools," says one shopper, though another, a 50-year-old carpenter, says taxes that add 30% or more to the price of pot, depending on the jurisdiction, are too steep. "I don't care if they write me a check, or refund it in my taxes, or just give me a free joint next time I come in. The taxes are too high, and they should give it back," he says. The governor's budget writers predict the pot refunds could amount to $30.5 million, or about $7.63 per adult in Colorado, although lawmakers still have to decide whether the refunds will go to everybody or just marijuana buyers.