Portland Marijuana Tax Could Fund Expunging Prior Cannabis Convictions

legalize-courtStarting in 2017, the Oregon state tax on marijuana is dropping to 17 percent and cities can add their own local taxes of up to 3 percent if voters approve.

The Portland City Council will debate a 3 percent tax on cannabis Wednesday, and Commissioner Amanda Fritz has put together a proposal for spending the tax that could appeal to both law enforcement and marijuana advocates.

She’s proposed dedicating those dollars to public safety and drug treatment programs, and for people who were disadvantaged by marijuana prohibition.

“For instance, helping with expunging people’s records who were convicted of cannabis-related crimes that wouldn’t be a crime now,” Fritz said.

Fritz estimates the tax will generate about $3 million per year.

The commissioner said conversations with marijuana industry lobbyists convinced her to advocate for people who’d been disadvantaged by prior drug laws.

The tax would only apply to recreational marijuana. If the City Council approves it, it will go to the November ballot for the voters to decide.

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Cities across western Oregon, including Astoria and Cottage Grove, are weighing local cannabis taxes. In eastern Oregon, cities like Pendleton are asking voters whether they want to lift local bans on cannabis.

Here’s a full rundown of how Fritz has proposed allocating a Portland marijuana tax:

  • Drug and alcohol education and treatment programs, including but not limited to services that increase access to these programs and programs that support rehabilitation and employment readiness
  • Public safety investments to reduce impacts of drug and alcohol abuse, such as police DUII training and enforcement, support for firefighter paramedics, street infrastructure projects that improve safety, other initiatives to reduce the impacts of drug and alcohol abuse
  • Support for innovative neighborhood small businesses, especially women-owned and minority-owned businesses, including but not limited to business incubator programs, management training and job training opportunities; and providing economic opportunity and education to communities disproportionately-impacted by cannabis prohibition.

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