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Portland NORML Challenges Local Oregon Marijuana Taxes

portland norml oregon marijuanaLast week, Rob Bovett, the lobbyist representing the organizations of Oregon counties and cities, authored a memo calling for the legislature to allow cities and counties to establish local sales taxes on legal marijuana and to have the power to ban marijuana businesses without a vote of the people, in clear contradiction to the legalization initiative passed by the people in the 2014 election.

Following these demands for sweeping changes to marijuana legalization and threats of lawsuits if those demands aren’t met, the Portland, Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Portland NORML, has sent a five-page letter seeking clarification from Mr. Bovett.  Among the questions in the letter are:

  • What good is a citizen’s initiative process if a few lobbyists and legislators can overturn its key provisions and pervert its intent?
  • Since there is a clear and unambiguous ban on local taxes on all relevant areas of commercial marijuana regulation, what does Mr. Bovett believe the cities and counties could tax about marijuana that would avoid a direct conflict with state law?
  • Is it Mr. Bovett’s intention to undercut Oregon’s ability to abide by the guidelines of the Cole Memo statewide, thus subjecting Oregonians to the threat of federal prosecution?

Statement from Portland NORML Executive Director Russ Belville

“Measure 91 passed in Oregon by the greatest margin of any of the four states that have legalized marijuana.  Measure 91 got more votes statewide than any candidate and any measure, except the Equal Rights Amendment.  For the legislature to subvert the clear language and intent of the people is a threat not only to the viability of Oregon’s legal marijuana market, but to the very foundation of Oregon democracy.  Rob Bovett, the Association of Oregon Counties, and the League of Oregon Cities don’t seem to understand that low taxation and statewide uniformity are key lessons learned from Washington and Colorado.  The taxation and bans Mr. Bovett proposes are welcomed most by the illegal growers and dealers who will be able to undercut and work around them.”

A copy of the full letter is attached and also available at http://portlandnorml.org/cities-counties-want-to-subvert-marijuana-legalization-in-oregon/

  • Jim Freire

    Bravo! I watched the OMMA get rewritten by politicians and saved by activists over the last near 20 yrs Having this law intact is very important to not just those who voted for it but the patients who may well end up in the program .

  • jbentzr

    Oregon bill is now in the hands of the OLCC. It is doomed.

    • Bongstar420

      Yep…because your not there to do it right since you know better!

  • Old Soul

    Bovett is getting paid well to stir the pot and ride the wave of greed and ignorance. The state will defend the will and intent of 91. He’ll then run off to another state in MJ transition to cash in.

    • Bongstar420

      Ya…not like its not pervasive in all groups or anything like- the greed for your way of life at the expense of other peoples..

      Decriminalization comes at the expense of those who prefer prohibition.

      I’d say legalization, but prohibition is equally a legal construct. Generally legalization means transfer from unregulated, prohibition to regulated allowance. Pure decriminalization would be the absence of any concepts with respect to rules.

      • Whyiowa4medical

        If you do not like cannabis, by all means, do not smoke any. How you live your life is none of my business, but what this herb could do was in front of our faces for years. We were not seeking those answers at that time, I first witnessed cannabis cease 95% of all seizure activity in 1985. This piqued my medical interest in this herb beyond the “spiritual” medicine, but today it would have a direct and positive effect on me as well as many preventative effects. I was once in painkiller “rehab” and those 12 step organizations are not without mercy, as I was allowed sensible narcotic pain relief. So, as I say, if you want nothing to do with cannabis that is your free choice, no one is perturbed by your presence we know your type quite well.

  • Carl

    Raise taxes idc, I buy from the cartel; fk THE MAN!!!!

  • Whyiowa4medical

    Raising taxes for the sale of cannabis is against Oregon’s retail taxation laws. Plus having areas where it is not allowed will be confusing to vacationers and visitors to Oregon’s overwhelming victory. They could easily arrest the wrong person with this type of “wet” and “dry” counties, as has been the case in many southern states that have this system in place for alcohol still today. For people to truly be free states must adopt this model and keep it available to all. This “stirring the pot” is sending absolutely the wrong message to far too many states; they should be quelled quickly!!!

    • Cyndysub

      “many southern states that have this system in place for alcohol still today” Yeah they do. I know of a county that is named Independence county and it is DRY so their county name is an oxymoron. Buy tax free weed.

      • Bongstar420

        Really? Couldn’t be independence from drug use (alcohol)?

      • Whyiowa4medical

        Cyndysub, I rode through the South quite a few years ago and “dry county” notices were overgrown in the brush, but a very good clue was towns without bars. If someone had alcohol it could be a jailing, a pretty darn big fine, and they were becoming just rare enough as to be confusing. Dry counties for cannabis will likely cause similar problems because unless you lived in the south and knew these counties you could run past a string of bars and liquor stores and two miles outside town you were in a “dry” county. Many officers were posted at these county lines. It seems more like entrapment.

    • Bongstar420
      • Whyiowa4medical

        Were you aware there is no retail sales tax in Oregon? We always told the government that they could tax cannabis, but this is illegal where there is no retail sales tax, even on medications.

  • I am pretty sure that Roseburg Oregon passed a city tax on legal marijuana sales back in 2014. I would love for it to be undone by these smart people! See more here: http://www.cityofroseburg.org/files/2314/1745/7336/Ord._No._3438.pdf

    • Bongstar420

      I’d love to see them try to enforce it with M91 unchanged.

      Too bad they won’t put officials in jail for voting on illegal laws.

  • Bongstar420

    The local officials that want to implement local taxes are welcome to open their own private grow operations and they can donate the proceeds to the city…Or we could just seed ownership to them..they probably wouldn’t find cause with that