Pubdate: Fri, 24 Oct 2014
Source: Albany Democrat-Herald (OR)
Copyright: 2014 Lee Enterprises
Author: Mike McInally
Note: Mike McInally is the editor of the Democrat-Herald.


It's a little alarming - and, truth be told, a little amusing - to 
watch city and county governments line up, one by one, for their 
potential slice of tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana.

Even communities that have made it clear that medical marijuana 
dispensaries are not welcome within their boundaries are hoping to 
cash in on recreational marijuana as a way to drive some additional 
dough into their coffers.

Just this week in Linn County, the Albany City Council voted to slap 
a 10 percent additional tax on the sale of recreational weed. On the 
same day, the Lebanon City Council approved a similar 10 percent tax. 
The issue is pending before councils in Brownsville and Jefferson - 
and a variety of other governmental bodies throughout Oregon.

This is, of course, the governmental equivalent of buying a couple of 
lottery tickets every time the Powerball jackpots zoom into the 
multi-million dollar territory. You never know, right? This might be 
the time you cash in.

But the odds of winning might be just about the same.

First, all these governments are betting that Measure 91, the ballot 
measure that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, will 
be approved by Oregon voters on Election Day. That's probably not a 
bad bet: At least some polls have said the measure enjoys a lead 
among voters even though other polls have suggested that the race 
might turn out to be close.

Second - and this is where the odds really start to get long - the 
measure itself is pretty clear about which level of government gets 
to tax the sale of recreational marijuana. Here's a clue: It's not 
the city of Albany or Benton County.

No, the language of Measure 91 - borrowed from Oregon's alcohol tax 
law - expressly declares that the state is the sole taxing entity for 
pot. (The measure does specify, to some extent, where that tax money 
will go: Some of it, of course, will go to the Oregon Liquor Control 
Commission to help administer the law. The rest of it is earmarked 
for schools, mental health, drug and alcohol services, the Oregon 
Health Authority, the Oregon State Police and local law-enforcement agencies.)

Albany's city attorney this week told the council that none of these 
local taxes is likely to survive a legal challenge. Then three city 
councilors - joined by Mayor Sharon Konopa, who voted to break a tie 
- - decided to go ahead with the tax anyway. Because, after all, you 
never know, right? This might be the time they cash in. (mm)
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom