Pubdate: Wed, 24 Aug 2016
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2016 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Hannah Golden, Mail Tribune

Recreational Marijuana


Collections Are Exceeding Projections

Pot smokers are paying even more in taxes than state officials 
thought they would.

According to figures released Monday by the Oregon Department of 
Revenue, Oregon's recreational marijuana sales tax has generated 
$25.5 million in revenue so far this year, exceeding projections by millions.

In the first quarter of 2016, the Oregon Department of Revenue 
collected $14.9 million from recreational pot sales. In May and June 
alone, retail outlets collected $10.6 million in taxes to push the 
year-to-date total over $25 million.

"It's picked up a bit since the start of the year," Oregon Department 
of Revenue public information officer Joy Krawcyzk says. "We don't 
have a good idea yet of what's leading to an increase, [but] most of 
the increase was in the May-June time frame."

In May, the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office updated the amount it 
expects to collect in marijuana taxes this biennium from $35 million 
to $43 million.

On. Jan. 1, the state began collecting a 25 percent sales tax on 
retail marijuana. The tax will drop to 17 percent Oct. 1 for 
dispensaries licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

All medical marijuana dispensaries must be licensed and registered 
with the Oregon Health Authority, and those looking to sell 
recreational marijuana beyond this year must also obtain a license 
from the OLCC. Medical marijuana is not taxed.

According to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program website, Oregon has 
420 marijuana dispensaries. Jackson County has 24 dispensaries, of 
which 18 are licensed to sell recreational marijuana. Dispensaries 
not licensed by the OLCC will continue to be taxed at 25 percent on 
recreational sales through the end of the year, said Krawcyzk.

As of Tuesday, nearly 13 percent of applications made in the state to 
OLCC for marijuana licenses came from Jackson County, including labs, 
processors, wholesalers, producers and retailers.

State officials do not yet have figures on how much tax revenue came 
from Jackson County.

"We've really been keeping an open mind when it comes to how much 
this tax would bring into the state," Krawcyzk says. "At this point, 
we're just learning what Oregon's recreational marijuana environment 
will look like."

Last week, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted 2 to 1 to 
put a countywide tax measure on the general election ballot. In 
November, Jackson County residents will vote on whether to impose a 3 
percent sales tax on recreational marijuana, which would be in 
addition to the 17 percent state tax.

After costs to administer the state's marijuana program are paid, 20 
percent of state marijuana taxes go to city and county governments, 
40 percent goes to the Common School Fund, 20 percent goes to mental 
health and substance abuse services, 15 percent goes to Oregon State 
Police and 5 percent goes to the Oregon Health Authority.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom