Pubdate: Sat, 05 Dec 2015
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Copyright: 2015 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Note: Anchorage Daily News until July '14
Author: Devin Kelly


Anchorage Assembly members are proposing an April ballot measure to 
create a 5 percent tax on future retail marijuana sales.

Ernie Hall, chair of the Assembly's committee on marijuana regulation 
and taxation, said Friday the marijuana sales tax should cover the 
costs of enforcement and oversight when the state starts licensing 
marijuana businesses in May.

"We've got new expenses the city's got to cover," Hall said. "We've 
got to generate the revenue to be able to do it."

Hall added there will be a "learning curve" in taxing a fledgling 
industry. The proposal allows the city to increase taxes without 
going back to voters, but only once every two years and by a maximum 
of 2 percent, he said.

The tax would apply to all retail sales of marijuana and marijuana 
products, according to the proposal, but the Assembly could also 
adopt ordinances to create exemptions.

The pot tax could be one of two new sales taxes for Anchorage voters 
to consider in the upcoming April election. Assembly member Bill 
Evans has said he's separately working on a proposal for a general sales tax.

Unlike the general sales tax, the marijuana tax would fall outside 
the city's tax cap.

Other Alaska cities have already adopted marijuana sales taxes. 
Fairbanks voters supported a 5 percent tax in October; in Bethel, a 
15 percent tax passed overwhelmingly.

The Anchorage marijuana tax proposal, which was drafted by the city's 
legal and revenue departments and released Thursday, next heads to 
the Assembly's budget and finance committee for approval. Hall said 
he expects the full Assembly to vote on it in early January so the 
measure can appear on the April ballot.

A simple majority of voters would be required to approve the tax, 
according to draft proposal, rather than the three-fifths required 
for a general sales tax.

Also on Thursday, the city clerk's office released the first working 
draft of licensing requirements for local marijuana businesses. The 
draft reflects the latest version of the state regulations, but city 
attorney Bill Falsey said Friday it does not yet contain formal 
recommendations for stricter rules at the local level.

Hall said his committee will soon debate licensing requirements and 
expects an Assembly vote in February. The state will start processing 
applications Feb. 24 to meet the May deadline for initial licensing decisions.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom