Marijuana flowers are trimmed at a 3D Cannabis Center in Denver. (RJ Sangosti, Denver Post file)

Controversial Adams County pot sales tax in effect starting July 1

The new 3 percent county tax on recreational marijuana sales will go forward after judge rules against plaintiff cities of Aurora, Commerce City and Northglenn, which filed lawsuit citing competitive disadvantage for local pot businesses

All recreational marijuana shops in Adams County will be required to collect a controversial 3 percent county sales tax starting Wednesday, following a judge’s decision to not put a stop to the levy.

Adams County District Judge F. Michael Goodbee ruled late last week that Aurora, Commerce City and Northglenn, which in May sued the county over the tax, didn’t make a compelling enough argument for issuance of a preliminary injunction on the tax.

“The court finds that the evidence of harm presented at the subject hearing is speculative, lacks reasonable certainty, and is unsupported by any factual or scientific foundation,” Goodbee wrote.

The municipalities argued in their suit that Adams County doesn’t have the authority under the state constitution to levy a tax on just a single product — in this case recreational pot. Doing so, the plaintiffs argued, would put the “cities’ businesses at a competitive disadvantage” with other Colorado retail pot stores.

Aurora and Northglenn each impose a 2 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana; Commerce City imposes a 7 percent tax on the sale of all cannabis products.

Adams County, which doesn’t have any pot stores open in its unincorporated areas yet, had argued that its tax on recreational marijuana was sound because voters in each of the county’s municipalities approved it last year.

Goodbee noted that fact in his denial.

“The court cannot find that the public interest will be served by the granting of an injunction which seeks to discount the expressed will of the voters in the plaintiff cities,” he wrote.

But Adams County spokesman Jim Siedlecki on Tuesday warned that the heart of the case — whether the county’s marijuana tax is ultimately legal — is still in play.

“While we were encouraged by the court’s order on the preliminary injunction, this is a complex question and we look forward to hearing the court’s final ruling on the ultimate legal issue,” he said.

John Aguilar: 303-954-1695, jaguilar@denverpost.com or twitter.com/abuvthefold

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