DENVER – Marijuana growers in Colorado avoided being singled out for higher tax rates in an agriculture tax measure that advanced Thursday.
The bill codifies tax practices for greenhouses and nurseries, which are considered agricultural property and not commercial property in most cases. That makes them eligible for lower property taxes.
The sponsor of the greenhouse bill proposed an amendment to say marijuana-growing sites can’t qualify. But a Democratic Senate committee rejected the amendment last week.
The change left confusion about the fate of the overall tax measure, which sparked little notice until the pot amendment was added. Without the marijuana amendment, the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill 5-0. It now awaits a vote by the full Senate.
Colorado law currently states that medical marijuana growing sites can’t get agricultural tax breaks, but there’s no mention of how to tax recreational pot greenhouses. A panel that reviewed marijuana policy last year made no suggestion about whether agricultural tax breaks should apply to pot.
Growing marijuana outside isn’t allowed in Colorado, so greenhouses and nurseries would encompass the entire marijuana industry. The sponsor of the greenhouse bill said he didn’t want a marijuana debate to derail the measure.
“We’re not helping marijuana. We’re not hurting marijuana. Marijuana is the same with or without this bill,” said Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City.
Lawmakers in Washington state are considering a bill to prohibit marijuana growers from qualifying for agriculture tax breaks for 10 years. Supporters say that would give the state time to collect information and make a decision.
Washington and Colorado already have settled how to tax marijuana once it’s dried and ready to smoke.
Marijuana in Washington will be taxed 25 percent at three possible transfer points from production to retail sale, plus sales taxes. Colorado voters approved a 25 percent sales and excise tax on finished marijuana, plus local taxes.