The term ‘sales tax’ is largely considered to be taboo in Oregon politics. Oregon is rare in that it doesn’t have a sales tax, and any time any politician talks about creating a sales tax in Oregon, they are usually committing political suicide. Oregon hasn’t had a sales tax in a very long time, and lots and lots of polling has shown that citizens don’t want it. Oregon politicians have realized that people don’t want a sales tax, and have largely left the issue alone. That is, unless it involves marijuana.
The Oregon Legislature wants to create a sales tax specially for recreational marijuana. These politicians have tried very hard to pretty up their proposal by calling it a ‘point of sale’ tax, but it’s obviously a sales tax. Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which specifically stated that taxing would be left to the state, not to municipalities, and that the tax rate would be a flat $35 per ounce tax. For some reason Oregon politicians don’t want to respect the will of the voters, and instead are wanting to allow up to a 3% local sales tax on marijuana, and a 17% state sales tax. Per Oregon Live:
Legislative negotiators have tentatively agreed on a sweeping marijuana deal that could produce a 20 percent sales tax on recreational sales of pot.
Under the deal — which is still subject to change — the state could collect a 17 percent tax while localities could collect up to 3 percent.
The deal to allow local taxes is aimed at ending a standoff with cities and counties over just how much power they have to prohibit retail sales of both recreational and medical marijuana.
Oregon voters don’t want a sales tax, on marijuana or anything else. Oregon voters passed Measure 91 which specifically gave taxing powers to the state alone, had a clear tax rate of $35 per ounce of flower, stated no less than three times that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program should remain in tact as it was before the 2014 Election, and only allowed bans on recreational marijuana sales if it was approved by voters. What happened? Why is the Oregon Legislature pushing their own version of recreational marijuana legalization, especially considering the fact that they had the chance to pass their own version before the 2014 Election and refused to do so?