The Desperate Lies Of Josh Marquis, Part II: There’s No Money in Legal Weed

josh marquis oregon marijuana

(image via

In continuing my dissection of the obfuscations and half-truths of Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis, the leading spokesperson for law enforcement’s opposition to marijuana legalization in Oregon, I happened upon a statement of his on his personal Facebook page that claims Measure 91’s legalization of marijuana won’t provide any tax revenues to local law enforcement:

Section 44 is a spaghetti-like maze of divvying up what is likely to be very little net revenue. In order to compete with the “black market” M-91 keeps taxes much lower than WA or CO – $35 an ounce for bud.

That’s true about the taxes, they are just $35 per ounce.  But “very little net revenue” seems specious, as various estimates from economists peg the revenues between $30 million and $105 million.  The state estimates $17 – $40 million.

So IF the state collects $20 million first you have deduct the costs of regulation, like with booze.

According to the state’s own analysis, those costs of start-up are estimated to be $300,000 in FY 2015, $2.5 million in FY 2016, and $1 million in FY 2017, totaling almost $3.8 million over three years.  Costs of regulation at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission are estimated to be $3.2 million per year, or $9.6 million over three years.  “IF the state collects $20 million” a year, that’s $60 million over three years, minus the $3.8 million start-up and $9.6 million regulation costs, and we have a net revenue of $46.6 million over three fiscal years, or about $15.5 million a year net, or what Josh Marquis calls “very little net revenue.”

Then read read 44(2)(B)(i) and you’ll learn that getting revenue depends on how many stores a city has (fewer stores, less money) and while 15% does go to the State Police the remaining amount for law enforcement is ONLY to “perform it’s duties under this act.”

That’s true as well.  10% goes to cities and 10% goes to counties in proportion to the number of marijuana licensees operating in the city or county.  If your city or county bans marijuana licensees, then it needs neither the revenue to regulate marijuana nor deserves the benefits of regulated marijuana.

So, since almost no cops are tasked to enforce marijuana laws AND you can only use local cop money to enforce marijuana laws, in most towns it will mean the local police get…nothing.

If a town bans marijuana licensees, yes, it will get nothing.  But where is this “no cops are tasked to enforce marijuana laws” coming from?  Cops enforce marijuana laws at least 12,000 times a year in Oregon.

But if your town does allow marijuana licensees, then yes, the share of the 10% your city gets will pay your police to enforce the marijuana laws “under this act”.  That could include stings against under-aged entrance to pot shops, response to smell complaints about grow sites, investigations of illegal and unlicensed grows, search warrants against illegal home butane hash oil manufacture, and so on.

With 15% of our assumed $15.5 million in Measure 91 tax revenue dedicated for state police, that’s $2.3 million a year.  For the local cops, their 10% is $1.5 million a year for county sheriffs and $1.5 million a year for local police.  There are 36 counties in Oregon, so the mean amount available will be $43,000 per year per county, with greater amounts for populous counties with lots of marijuana licensees and lesser amounts for smaller counties.  Of course, if a county bans all marijuana licensees, then the 10% is only divided among 35 counties and everyone’s share increases.

Similarly, there are 242 incorporated cities in Oregon, so the mean amount available per city would be about $6,400 a year, more for big cities with lots of licenses, less for small towns.  And again, every city that bans licensees means more money for the others.

So even with Josh Marquis’s assumption of $20 million a year in marijuana revenues, an average Oregon county could make $43,000 a year and an average Oregon city could make $6,400 a year.  Go with the state estimates and it could be more than double that.  Or as Marquis puts it, if we tax and regulate marijuana and give 35% of the proceeds to law enforcement, “police get…nothing.”


About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.

  • moses

    They just don’t get it , authoritarian approach does not work. It’s only through education that you can make any change in youth drug use, not a police state. Knowledge is real power. Take for instance, you only need to get burned by fire once, to know.
    Ps weed blog is the best community opinion platform I have found . It is a place patients, users, people can give honest opinions and help us all get through this mess Richard Nixon has left us. Worst leader ever, not just because of the drug thing or Watergate

    • Duncan20903

      People give Dick Nixon way too much credit. He may have built the infrastructure but if Ronald Reagan hadn’t been elected that infrastructure would have been left to rust. I can assure you that in 1979 no one wanted to be associated with Mr. Nixon. Even Mr. Reagan never mentioned Mr. Nixon even though he was a carbon copy for all practical purposes.

      • moses

        He took us off the gold standard, he printed money with no backing, he was such .a bad leader, he left a wake of destruction, that ruined Mr Carter, and Ford’s presidency, Regan was not as good as R people think, Iran contra, importing cocaine, to finance overthrow of a gov. Just say no

    • Cyndysub

      Hi, what is the address of that?

  • Brandon

    If it’s true what he is saying, then maybe it would keep the police abuse down. Why should the police get more money? They would use it for mraps, etc. Until they stop using their abusive powers, they should not get more.

  • Robert Ireland

    i am a little surprised most don’t seem to get the only reason we have too many of them is because of this war. lay off the excess, they should have never been hired, duh. so, what they don’t get. As it is, in the past 4 decades we’ve grown the equivalent of over 18 (read EIGHTEEN!!) armies of police in this republic, while the US Army only has 7 or 8. We have more of them “protecting” us than we have in army barracks and in the field around the world and the only ones they seem to be going after is US, the very people they claim to be serving and protecting, but we all know that’s total bullwhip. Truth is they have lost their war and now want to dictate their own terms of surrender. Seriously folks, get your heads right. THEY lost, not us. THEY are the ones need to concede their defeat and ASK US what WE WANT, not the other way around. They are only one lie after another, whereas the science vindicates us. We have the truth on our side and it is only a matter of time everyone realizes this singularly unique source of an entire class of essential nutrients, THEY have denied us for our safety of healthy and which in the 4th generation of a massive worldwide nutrient deficiency that is wrecking havoc on the world community’s health and lives is over. This food can and will end world hunger in one growing season and recover our collective health that we might also live well into our 90s and beyond with the same absence of disease factors found in almost a dozen micro cultures around the world who managed to keep it due to their keeping cannabis in at least the food chain of their farm animals.

    • Greenstreet

      that was outstanding Mr. Ireland , It will be our victory and should contain our conditions . Health and long life is everything !

  • Sarijuana

    You really dig into it, Russ. Thanks for doing that.

  • MrPC

    Wah! The police don’t like losing their cash cow and they are very upset. They can’t grab people’s homes, cars and other property just because they have a little reefer laying around. How sad.

  • Captain Obvious

    They are addicted to drug war money. Maybe they need forced rehab and a permanent label on their record.

    • Patrick Star

      Heaven forbid they be held accountable for every life or family they have destroyed for more money in they’re pockets of more power

      • Captain Obvious

        If we tried to make them, they would just print more money and bail ship with as many promotions as they think they deserve.

    • Jetdoc

      That’s what Sabet wants for US! Turn about’s fair play isn’t it? They better quit messing with weed smokers and concentrate on ISIS, cuz they’re gonna be in OUR backyard before too long!

  • Cyndysub

    F all these tax schemes, Polls for legalization of personal use in your home are rising like a star. We need full out legalization, the tax pigs will never be satisfied with the rates and as time goes by they will want increases as they always have done with taxes historically. If you think the tax on pot will be different you are kidding yourself.

    • Duncan20903

      When you come up with a plan to get enough people to agree with you then we’ll consider your position. As reality stands today, we may as well fold up the tents and go home because nothing would change.

      • Cyndysub

        I guess by your ignorant statement that you don’t track the polls so shut the fuck up.

    • Matthew Cloud

      So if I am understanding this correctly; the reason for not funding it is due to a lack of taxation? Then adding a pseudo argument that doesn’t address any health issues or am I misunderstanding this?

      • Cyndysub

        Why did you direct this to me It is not my job to teach idiots but let them wallow in their stupidity.

  • Great job Russ. Specious is spot on. Prohibitionists seem all too willing to poison the body politic with their duplicity. It certainly paints the DA’s office in a very unfavorable light.