(Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

Larkspur voters could get pot tax payback if recreational sales approved

Petitioners are hoping Larkspur residents approve measures on the April 8 ballot that would allow for recreational marijuana sales in the town and potentially put money into the pockets of residents.

James McVaney helped Larkspur resident Michelle Burhenn file petition referendums against the town’s moratorium on recreational marijuana, made legal in 2012 by Amendment 64 to the state constitution. Council either had to accept the ordinances, which would establish a recreational marijuana industry and its regulatory scheme and set a 5 percent excise tax, or send it to a vote of the people. The council chose the latter earlier this year.

Burhenn could not be reached for comment.

McVaney said he lives about 10 miles west of Larkspur in Cherry Park. His group, the Cannabis Patients Alliance, helped overturn a similar ban in Idaho Springs last year.

That 5 percent excise tax would result in the first $45,000 collected annually going to town government, and because of the way it’s written with regard to restrictions of the Taxpayer Bill Of Rights, the remainder would be split among the town’s registered voters.

“That’s potentially a lot of money going back to people in their pocket because there’s only 120 registered voters in Larkspur and those are the only people eligible to receive any tax refund from that,” he said.

Related: New tax twist — TABOR refund on cannabis revenues possible

McVaney said he thinks because of the income enhancement potential for residents, and the jobs potentially coming to town, the ordinances will be voted in.

“It’s all about giving the people of Larkspur a higher quality of life by giving them more money,” McVaney said. “They don’t have that right now.”

Douglas County residents overwhelmingly voted against medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. If the ordinances passed, Larkspur would be the only community in Douglas County to approve recreational marijuana. All municipalities, and the county, have banned recreational marijuana stores.

“I don’t know if people have changed in town or not,” said Larkspur Mayor Gerry Been. “My prediction is it could go 50-50, I don’t know which way it will go.”

Been said he wouldn’t go on the record with his personal feelings about recreational marijuana, but said he doesn’t see a new industry bringing many risks or dangers.

“It’s here, it’s everywhere,” Been said. “The only danger we would have would be more traffic, that’s the only increased danger I really see.”

Clayton Woullard: 303-954-2953, cwoullard@denverpost.com or twitter.com/yhclayton

This story was first published on DenverPost.com