OR: County Commissioners Unanimously OK Idea Of 3 Percent Tax On Marijuana Sales

Katelyn Baker

Well-Known Member
The Lane County Board of Commissioners unanimously gave an initial nod of approval Tuesday to a 3 percent county tax on recreational marijuana sales.

If approved, the tax would only apply on marijuana sales outside city limits in the county. There are five marijuana retailers, or dispensaries, that are currently selling recreational marijuana under the state's "early start" program in unincorporated areas, according to county staff.

But it's unclear how many of those retailers will transition from being medical marijuana dispensaries - whose sales can't be taxed locally - to recreational dispensaries, once they must choose to be one or the other. That, among other factors, makes it very hard to determine how much revenue a local 3 percent tax would generate for the county.

Using Pueblo County in Colorado as a potential comparator, Lane County lobbyist Alex Cuyler estimated that the tax might bring in $40,000 a month for the county.

The board must decide by Aug. 19 whether to put the tax before unincorporated-area voters on the November ballot. All 12 cities in Lane County are at least considering an identical tax on sales within their boundaries.

Commissioner Jay Bozievich said the tax is needed because of the extra costs the county will bear because of marijuana legalization.

The county's health department will have to treat someone who overdoses on edible marijuana products and the sheriff's office has to pay to train its officers to detect drivers who are under the influence of marijuana, for example, he said.

"The impacts (of legalization) lie in the majority with county governments," Bozeivich said.

Commissioner Pete Sorenson supported drafting an ordinance on the issue and hearing public comment on the proposal. But he expressed some concern that too many local taxes on marijuana would drive up prices too high and force people "back to the black market."

If the board moves ahead, it must decide whether to earmark the new marijuana revenue to a specific purpose or program, or have it flow into the county's general fund. Advocates for the county's mental health and drug addiction treatment programs have advocated that at least some of the money go to them.

The local tax would be in addition to the marijuana revenue Lane County will receive from the permanent 17 percent state tax on all sales.

Ten percent of that state tax will automatically go to Oregon's counties, divvied up based on population and the number of licensed recreational marijuana facilities in each county. Counties that have banned recreational marijuana facilities outright won't get a share of those funds.

Lane County is expecting to receive $120,000 from the state tax in the upcoming fiscal year.


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Full Article: County Commissioners Unanimously OK Idea Of 3 Percent Tax On Marijuana Sales
Author: Saul Hubbard
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