Voters in the state of Colorado will be voting on a proposal to increase taxes by 10% if they approve it. This proposal is an effort from the cannabis industry to fund research and education for marijuana legalization, which has been successful but can’t promise more without further investment. If voters say yes, how will this affect other states?

Proposition 119 is a ballot measure that will be voted on in Colorado. The proposition would increase cannabis taxes to fund research and education.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in January 2020, experts all around the globe have concentrated their efforts on virus-related research and study. Indeed, a study published in the journal Pediatric Research highlighted the relevance and limitations of coronavirus-inspired research, which Denver voters may soon have a say in.

It’s no surprise that researchers want to learn more about possible treatment and preventive techniques, given that the virus has killed almost 5 million people throughout the globe. The number of verified COVID-19 cases has surpassed 90,000 in Denver, Colorado, where voters will determine whether or not to raise the municipal cannabis tax to finance pandemic-related research.

In July, activists’ signatures for Initiated Ordinance 300, which proposes a 1.5 percent cannabis tax ($7 million yearly tax hike on cannabis sales), were approved for the November 2021 vote. Aside from this proposed local legislation, voters will be asked to vote on a separate statewide issue on the November ballot. If adopted, Proposition 119 would raise Colorado’s state marijuana retail sales tax from 15% to 20% to support an out-of-school education program.

Ordinance 300: Funding Pandemic Research in Denver was enacted.

Lobbyists for the Denver Pandemic Fund, which would eventually fund pandemic research at the University of Colorado Denver’s CityCenter, have strongly lobbied for Ordinance 300, which will only be on the ballot for Denver voters. The study will concentrate on “modern technology to safeguard the public against the transmission of pandemic diseases, especially at schools, companies, and hospitals,” according to the campaign’s website, as well as “pandemic preparation and recovery, including urban, economic, and school planning.”

The ordinance would bring in the essential funds to effectively operate this planned research program by imposing an extra 15 cents to every $10 of cannabis bought in Denver. According to the city of Denver’s website, 75% of the cash would go into research into protective equipment and disinfection technologies, while 25% will go toward public policy and planning studies. The study might be extended after 20 years, pending an audit.

The new law was prompted by a desire to increase pandemic preparation. “For years before COVID-19, global health professionals warned of a pandemic danger,” advocates said. “However, there was little preparedness in place when the virus struck. Elected politicians and government officials hurried to find legislative answers, medical remedies, and even fundamental safeguards. Many lives were lost, as well as livelihoods.”

However, not everyone is in favor of the proposed rule, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who sees it as an unnecessary fiscal burden on taxpayers. While medicinal marijuana users would be exempt from the tax increase, recreational users will face a 9.81 percent cannabis tax in Denver, on top of a statewide cannabis tax of 15%. The plan, according to one local legislator, is a “pointless tax grab” on a commodity that is already heavily overtaxed, especially because CU Denver did not even seek for the cash.

According to a CU Denver representative,

“The University of Colorado has taken no stance on Initiated Ordinance 300. When the campaign organization originally presented the ballot issue in the summer of 2020, CU Denver was made aware of it. We aren’t a part of the campaign. We haven’t developed any concrete plans for how to spend the monies if it passes since it’s still before the people. We do, however, have award-winning academics and an experienced research office that are ready and capable of managing new funding as Denver’s sole public urban research university.”

Colorado’s Proposition 119: Funding Out-of-School Enrichment

Proposition 119, which will be on all state voters’ ballots, will essentially establish the Colorado Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program (LEAP) by raising the state cannabis retail sales tax rate by 5%. (medical cannabis would not be affected). The Vote Yes on Prop 119 campaign was started by a group of educators who favor the proposition, and it has since been backed by a number of state lawmakers.

According to 9News, Proposition 119 would have no impact on K-12 in-school education or teacher needs. Rather, the bill would offer financial assistance to kids aged 5 to 17 for out-of-school learning and enrichment, such as tutoring, counselling, and language training. Students from low-income households would be entitled for a stipend of at least $1,500 per year.

Supporters of the initiative, including Colorado Governor Jared Polis, have said that all Colorado kids, regardless of financial condition, should have equal access to quality learning opportunities. According to Colorado Public Radio, supporters of Proposition 119 also say that the initiative allows parents to “choose a tutoring or after-school program that best suits their child’s developmental requirements” (CPR).

Others reject the initiative because they believe that public funds should be used to support public schools rather than private after-school activities. The Colorado Education Association, the state’s biggest teachers union, has taken a neutral stance on the proposal owing to a lack of information on how the program would be executed. Cannabis industry stakeholders fear that the proposal would drive purchasers back to the criminal market in order to avoid paying hefty taxes on authorized cannabis.

While Colorado is noted for its accomplishments in undoing the harm caused by cannabis prohibition, opinions on the most recent cannabis legislative legislation vary widely. Is raising cannabis taxes an effective way to support critical programs? Or do increasing cannabis tax rates just limit access to the plant that voters have battled so hard for? Please let us know in the comments section below.


Bethan Rose is a cannabis activist, writer, and nomad who has no fixed address. She is now located in Bali and can typically be found on her hammock collecting cannabis material.

Colorado Proposition 120 is a ballot measure that would increase taxes on cannabis to fund research and education. If passed, it will be the first time in history that Colorado has voted for increased taxes. Reference: colorado proposition 120.

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