Two Aurora City Council members intend to bring to study session in two weeks a proposal to lower the city’s marijuana tax.
Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Gardner and council member Danielle Jurinsky will sponsor the bill. At the request of council member Steve Sundberg, the council heard a sobering presentation Monday on the marijuana industry, which is suffering a sort of hangover from an influx pandemic-era revenue. Cannabis users were stuck in their homes, where they could privately partake all the time.
The industry did not plan for the hangover, and saw the market flooded with product. That has further lowered prices at a time when demand has already been declining. And each time a city increases the amount they tax marijuana, unregulated – i.e., illegal options – begin to look more attractive.
Aurora currently taxes cannabis 8.75%
The city currently taxes marijuana sales at 8.75%. In 2022, that came to $11.2 million. The city is home to two dozen dispensaries and 14 cultivation centers. The number of cultivation centers has nosedived from 22 last year due to reduced demand, according to city staff.
Mayor Mike Coffman wondered how much illegal growers and marijuana dealers have impacted the economy. “As taxes go up that helps the illicit market because they don’t pay taxes,” said Truman Bradley of Marijuana Industry Group. “So exactly when does someone switch and go back to the dude in the cul-de-sac, I don’t tell you the answer to that but it’s something we worry about as prices go up.”
'I told you so,' Mayor Pro Tem Gardner says
“I’m not going to dance, because people don’t want to see me dance, but ‘I told you so,’” Gardner told the council. He warned against a drop in sales several years ago when Aurora last raised its marijuana tax by 1 percent. The goal of Gardner and Jurinsky with their legislation is to roll back that tax. “It’s a burden on the industry as it is with any business and why legislators and policymakers out of one side of their mouth says we should treat cannabis like any other business and out of the other side of their mouth continue to go to cannabis to fun pet projects and treat it like a cash cow I won’t understand.”