Beaverton wants to tax marijuana

If voters approve in November, a 3% city tax would apply to recreational pot sales

Beaverton’s marijuana smokers may soon have to pony up a little more green for their green.

The City of Beaverton is preparing to put a 3 percent tax on recreational pot before voters this fall. The tax would not apply to medical marijuana.

If approved, the tax could generate $86,000 per year, a loose estimate based on Oregon Liquor Control Commission financial data applied to the five stores currently licensed to sell marijuana in the city, according to Finance Director Patrick O’Claire.

The tax income would go into the city’s general fund, where it would be available for general operations rather than earmarked for specific purposes, O’Claire said.

However, the new revenue would help offset additional city costs related to marijuana enforcement, such as additional training for the city’s police officers in recognizing signs of drug-impaired drivers.

During a presentation on the proposal Tuesday, Beaverton City Council members all echoed support for the tax, which they equated to taxes on alcohol and tobacco sales.

“I think we need to get this on the ballot,” Council member Mark Fagin said.

The proposed ballot language will come back to the Council for formal approval to get it on the November ballot.

Like many cities around Oregon, Beaverton’s Council passed a 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana before voters approved its legalization last year.

Subsequent efforts by the state to set rules call into question the city’s ability to impose the larger tax.

At the same time, the state allowed local governments to seek voter approval for a 3 percent tax on top of collecting a share of state taxes built into the measure voters passed, said Maja Haium, an assistant city attorney who brought a draft of the ballot title and summary to the Council.

The vote must occur at a general election.

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