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Pueblo Clerk seeks money to modernize marijuana licensing, tax collection

Applying for a marijuana or liquor license, or paying cannabis-related business taxes in Pueblo County is like a step back in time – to 1975.  

“We are very low tech, at this point,” said Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz. “We accept paper applications. We are pretty far behind.”

While the county does provide online accessibility for everything from renewing a driver’s license and paying for a red light citation, to settling up property and sales taxes, Ortiz admits that its marijuana and liquor licensing process is archaic.

Ortiz is banking on a $25,000 grant from the State Internet Portal Authority to help propel the county’s modernizing efforts into the 21st century with pueblolicensing.com, an online portal for licensing in Pueblo.

“Pueblo needs to be more business friendly with our licensing and tax collection.  Right now it feels like we’re still working with stone tablets. Our goal is to make our government work more efficiently.” – Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz

“We want everyone to have accessibility to everything related to licensing, including the minutes to the Liquor and Marijuana Licensing Board meetings,” he said.  “We also are looking at this effort to help us manage the reporting and paying of marijuana taxes.”

Currently one employee processes all of the incoming hard copy licenses, on top of their duties in marijuana tax collection, which is still mainly paid by cash, due to the federal government’s reluctance to allow banking for cannabis-related businesses. Pueblo County voters also approved an excise tax on exported marijuana in November, only adding to the job responsibilities of his limited staff.  He admits he has asked county commissioners for extra help to handle the load.

“Marijuana businesses aren’t going away anytime soon,” Ortiz said. “Pueblo needs to be more business friendly with our licensing and tax collection.  Right now it feels like we’re still working with stone tablets. Our goal is to make our government work more efficiently.”

Ortiz admits that Pueblo County is late to the party on its online efforts – when it comes to marijuana licensing – mainly due to money, and very few other similar examples to follow. He hopes, with cash in hand, they can model the local online efforts after the Colorado.gov website, the state’s one-stop government portal.

The county should know in February whether any of the grant money will be coming to their aid.

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