Local government

County court approves plan to let voters decide on measure to tax marijuana sales

VALE – Voters will get the chance to decide whether to tax the sale of marijuana in certain areas of Malheur County after action by the Malheur County Court earlier this month.
The county commissioners placed a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot to impose a 3% tax on the sale of marijuana items in unincorporated areas of the county.
“The people get to have their say on it,” said Dan Joyce, Malheur County judge.
A ban on the sale of marijuana within the county is already on the books. The action by the county is seen as a way for the county to have a tax ready should voters someday approve marijuana sales throughout the county.
The measure requires a marijuana retailer to collect the tax for use in the county’s general fund.
A petition to rescind the county marijuana ban is still circulating but has not been approved for the November election.
Captioned “Allows Licensed Marijuana businesses in Malheur County under Oregon Laws,” the ballot measure is sponsored by Caldwell resident Russ Belville and Ontario resident Lori Duckworth.
The ballot initiative reads: “This measure repeals Malheur County Court Ordinance 205 and 210 in order to allow marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, and medical marijuana dispensaries regulated by the Oregon Health Authority, to exist in Malheur County pursuant to Oregon Law. The measure does not apply within the boundaries/limits of any incorporated city within Malheur County (Ontario, Vale, Nyssa, Adrian, Jordan Valley).”
Passage of the measure will also allow the county to collect the 3% local tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales.
State voters approved the recreational use of marijuana in 2014 with Measure 91, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission was tasked with regulating marijuana sales.
Later legislation by state lawmakers allowed counties where 55 percent or more of voters opposed Measure 91 to ban marijuana sales.
Malheur County was one of those counties.
However, in 2018, Ontario voters voted to allow the sale of marijuana within city limits.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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