Pubdate: Thu, 11 Jun 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Jeff Mapes


SALEM - A legislative deal laying out the future of the legal 
marijuana market in Oregon was in danger of falling apart Wednesday 
as the result of yet another dispute about local curbs on retail 
sales of the drug.

Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, sent a late-night 
email to leaders of the legislative marijuana committee saying he 
couldn't agree with the deal they reached with city and county 
association lobbyists on the issue of local control.

Ferrioli, whose eastern Oregon district voted strongly against the 
marijuana legalization initiative last November, said he wanted to 
make sure that local governments have the ability to ban medical and 
recreational marijuana sales in their communities.

That same issue hung up legislators on the House-Senate marijuana 
committee earlier in the year when they tried to pass a bill dealing 
with regulation of medical marijuana.

Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, and Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, 
who co-chair the committee, thought they had got past that dispute by 
cutting a deal with local government lobbyists that paved the way for 
a broad measure, House Bill 3400, that deals with both medical and 
recreational marijuana regulation.

They agreed to allow cities and counties to levy a 3 percent sales 
tax on recreational marijuana sales. The legalization initiative, 
Measure 91, banned local taxes.

In exchange, the city and county lobbyists in essence agreed to put 
off the local control issue now while the matter is litigated in the 
courts and a task force came up with recommendations for the 2016 
legislative session.

"It's really disappointing," said Lininger. "My feeling is we had a 
deal and I'm shocked and disappointed that the goal posts have moved."

Burdick said that "we're trying to find a path forward" and said she 
hoped it wouldn't derail the sweeping legislation, which includes 
everything from new limits and regulations on pot growers to strict 
labeling and testing requirements. A companion measure, House Bill 
2041, calls for a 17 percent state sales tax on recreational 
marijuana, which would replace a harvest tax called for under Measure 91.

Ferrioli said it's not enough to simply give cities and counties a 
chance to get some local tax revenue off marijuana sales in exchange 
for reducing their ability to bar sales.

"A lot of people feel if you put a price tag on a value system, 
people will sell," he said. "Not true."

Ferrioli also said he didn't want to leave the issue up to the 
courts, explaining that taxpayers are the ones who have to bear the 
costs of litigation.

The state allowed localities to prohibit medical marijuana 
dispensaries for a year, but that ban expired on May 1. Many 
communities continue to prohibit the dispensaries, saying they can't 
be forced to allow sales of a drug still illegal under federal law. 
Measure 91 allows local bans on recreational marijuana -- possession 
of which becomes legal statewide on July 1 -- only through a vote of 
the people in a community.

While Democrats hold a strong majority in the Legislature, Burdick 
and Lininger see bipartisan support as important in making their 
colleagues comfortable on an issue -- regulating legal marijuana -- 
that is so new to them. So for that reason, they don't want to lose 
the Senate's top Republican.

Burdick and Lininger said they weren't sure how they would proceed, 
although they dropped plans to try to pass HB 3400 at their Wednesday 
evening meeting and eventually cancelled the session.

"We're trying to get something done," said Lininger late Wednesday 
afternoon after she was seen huddling with one committee member, Rep. 
Andy Olson, R-Albany, on the House floor.

Ferrioli also denied reports that his concerns about HB 3400 were 
aimed at winning Democratic concessions on unrelated issues.

"I'm not trying to obfuscate or hang it up," he said, "or trade it 
for something."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom