Marijuana plants are tended at Colorado pot shop BotanaCare 21+ in Northglenn, which is in Adams County. (Denver Post file)

This Colorado county not backing down: will take pot sales tax battle to state Supreme Court

Adams County is not backing down in its fight to collect a tax on recreational marijuana sales, announcing Wednesday morning that it will bring its case to the Colorado Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the county said it will continue to collect the 3 percent sales tax, which has netted nearly $1.5 million since it was first imposed in July 2015.

The Colorado Court of Appeals on Dec. 15 found that the county’s tax on recreational weed is neither constitutional nor authorized by statute. The appellate court ruling reversed an Adams County District Court decision this past autumn upholding the tax, which has been challenged by the cities of Northglenn, Aurora and Commerce City as an illegal levy.

The cities made the contention that Adams County didn’t have the authority under state law to tax a single product. Coupled with their own taxes on pot, they argued that an additional county levy put recreational cannabis retailers in their jurisdictions at a competitive disadvantage.

But Adams County points to the fact that voters in Northglenn, Aurora and Commerce City all voted in favor of the tax. And it noted the good the money is already doing, with more than half a million dollars used to create the Adams County Scholarship Fund, which provides four-year scholarships to qualified students enrolled in the free and reduced school lunch program.

The county said it will honor the scholarships it awarded to more than 50 students last year and plans to award another $1 million in scholarships this year.

“Our residents understood the money generated from this tax could be used for education, and they overwhelmingly supported the tax by voting for this measure,” Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio said. “The county will pursue all legal avenues to preserve its authority to collect this tax on retail marijuana that voters in every municipality approved.”

Adams County plans to take its case to the Colorado Supreme Court this month.  It’s not clear when the court will decide whether or not to put it on its docket.

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