Voters in Colorado on Tuesday rejected a referendum that would have increased the state’s tax on marijuana sales.
Proposition 119 proposed phasing in a 5-percentage-point increase in the tax levied on retail cannabis by 2024, the Denver Post reports. The increase was slated to begin at 3% in 2022 and increase by 1 percentage point in each of the following two years.
The measure was rejected by more than 54% of voters, according to results as of Wednesday morning, and organizers conceded defeat.
The proceeds would have helped fund out-of-school programs for Colorado children, particularly those from low-income households. Proponents argued it would help ease the state’s achievement gap between higher- and lower-income levels.
Critics countered that the measure lacked transparency and suggested that the state’s current 15% tax rate was already high. Peter Marcus, a spokesman for Boulder cannabis company Terrapin, said following the vote that the measure would have made the industry “a piggy bank for out-of-state special interest projects.”
“Coloradans understand that lawmakers struck an appropriate balance when they planned for cannabis taxes,” Marcus said in a statement. “Disrupting that system would only set successful regulation back.”