In my brief guide to the Denver ballot, I wrote this in opposition to Initiative 300, a proposed marijuana tax increase to fund Covid-19 research:
‘There’s got to be plenty of grant money for this sort of thing already available, and there’s already extensive scientific literature on masks for the general public, ventilation, and other measures. And they don’t even mention the risks of traveling to your family over Thanksgiving.”
In addition, I spoke to reporter Sherrie Peif for her Complete Colorado story about the out-of-state money funding the initiative. In it, I focused on people from Delaware taking advantage of Colorado’s initiative process to get Denver taxpayers to fund research they want done.
When Denverite, a digital news site under the umbrella of Colorado Public Radio, covered Initiative 300, it originally described opponents this way:
“Anti-tax conservatives, including Joshua Sharf, former vice-chair of the Denver County Republican Party, have spoken out against the bill. Opponents describe the measure as ‘a pointless tax grab,’ arguing recreational cannabis is the stylish new sin to tax. Higher taxes on cannabis, they argue, means more of the marijuana industry shifts back to the black market, strengthening criminal organizing and down the road justifying even more taxes to fight crime. The opponents also worry that CU Denver CityCenter had nothing to do with securing the funds, and as a result, the program’s goals might never work and the money could be shifted to other unknown purposes.”
This was not an argument that I had ever made, although from the wording here, it could easily be assumed that I had. I called the reporter, Kyle Harris, to ask about the piece. He said that he had used the city’s voter guide as the basis for his description, and hadn’t intended to attribute those arguments to me. He agreed to a small revision for clarity, and the current version online reads, “Other opponents describe the measure…,” which I think resolves the problem. I want to thank him for his professionalism and for taking the critique in the spirit in which it was intended.
5280 Magazine is another matter. Its voter guide describes the opposition to 300 this way:
“Opponents like Joshua Sharf, the former vice-chair of the Denver County Republican Party, argue that the proposed tax hike would simply relapse the recreational marijuana industry back into the black market sphere, an outcome that could later increase taxes as law enforcement combats the resulting spike in criminal activity. Detractors have also rightfully noted that University of Colorado Denver CityCenter, the intended recipient for any funds generated, has played a minimal role in drafting the bill and prepared no formal plan for how they would spend the money if it passed.”
The paragraph looks for all the world like a rewritten version of the original Denverite paragraph. There is no link either to my voter guide or to Peif’s article. Far from possibly being misinterpreted, the first sentence specifically attributes to me arguments I have never made in opposition to 300.
Thus far, a call to 5280’s editorial department has gone unanswered, and the paragraph remains uncorrected.
Joshua Sharf is a Denver resident and regular contributor to Complete Colorado.
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