Taos County Commissioners heard concerns from residents as they began finalizing local ordinances to create the state’s recreational cannabis industry. At the county commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday, August 3, the Taoseños expressed concerns about taxes, licensing and the protection of children in the community.
“I think it’s really important that we impose it locally,” said Jennifer Ammann, a resident of Taos. “I realize that the state of New Mexico will be taxed, and some of that will come back to local municipalities.”
The Cannabis Regulation Act (CRA), passed by the state legislature in April, will allow recreational use of cannabis by adults (aged 21 and older) throughout New Mexico. At the same time, the CRA passed the Cannabis Tax Act, which specifies tax rates for state and county governments.
“If you look at neighboring states where cannabis has been legal for a few years, namely Colorado and California, they allow up to 15% local taxation, on top of what the states tax,” Ammann said. .
According to the CRA, New Mexico will impose an excise tax on all sales of recreational cannabis and send 33.33% to the local jurisdictions where the sales are made. The remaining 66.67 percent will go to the general state fund.
The tax rate will be 12% – once sales start on or before April 1, 2022. But the law will increase this rate by 1% each year, starting in July 2025.
“If you look at Colorado, in 2020 cannabis sales grossed $ 2 billion, which ends up being a lot of funding for state and local municipalities,” Ammann said. “They’re using it for education and transportation. And those are clearly areas where we could use more funding as well.”
Ammann went on to explain that many tourists coming to Taos County for winter ski trips and summer rafting trips from California and Colorado are already used to paying higher cannabis taxes. “It reflects what they are already used to,” she said.
Cori Strife, a contract lawyer from Taos County, replied: “There is really nothing, at least in the Cannabis Regulation Act, that deals with taxation, except for the fact that they specify that there is the cannabis tax law, which at this point is so new, there is no actual regulation associated with the legal provision. “
“So that’s something that I’m watching, to see if that’ll give us some kind of authority that doesn’t currently exist,” Strife said.
Another participant in the meeting raised the issue of public safety, in relation to recreational cannabis and children in the community.
“I just want to say how important it will be for us to educate young people in the community about the harms of cannabis use,” said Casandra Romero, a prevention specialist with the nonprofit organization. lucrative Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
“I strongly encourage the county to consider using some of this tax to create a campaign or programming because there is a misconception about the safety of marijuana, especially among our youth,” Romero said.
She went on to explain that through her work with the Youth Risk and Resilience Survey, she recorded around 70 percent of high school students using cannabis.
“So there is already a very low perception of risk already. They think it’s a drug. They think it’s safe,” said Romero, who warned that marijuana is harmful to mental health, in especially in adolescents and young adults.
“The amount of THC was around 10-12%. Now we see over 80-90% THC in the way it’s made and grown,” she said.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main active ingredient in cannabis. Higher percentages of THC translate to higher levels of intoxication for those who use cannabis.
Romero wants to dispel the misconception that cannabis is low risk. “This, like alcohol and any other drug, falls into this risk category,” she said, while volunteering to help the county create a public service announcement to deal with the risk for the children.
This story is part of a series on the Cannabis Control Act.