And now, a local sales tax on pot?

City Hall may see more marijuana debates if a tax idea moves forward.

City Hall may see more marijuana debates if a tax idea moves forward.

How about a city sales tax on recreational marijuana in case Oregon voters pass Measure 91, the pot initiative, on Nov. 4? The Albany City Council is toying with the notion, sort of.

City Manager Wes Hare brought up the subject Wednesday night. The statewide ballot initiative allowing recreational marijuana, and having the state tax it, has a provision banning local taxes. That has apparently given some cities the idea they could pass a marijuana tax before the measure is enacted and then have their own local tax grandfathered. Ashland, the council was told, has passed something along those lines in case the pot initiatve becomes law.

City Attorney Jim Delapoer doubts that a local marijuana tax could survive passage of the state measure, but he said that if the council wants, he will draft something modeled on the Ashland action. There was a confusing round of murmuring, nodding and shaking of heads, but in the end the council majority seemed to want at least to see what he comes up with. A sales tax of 10 per cent was mentioned. (Rich Kellum did not attend Wednesday's session. He's a strong opponent of marijuana, though, and likely would go along with taxing the heck out of it if the city could.)

Delapoer says that if the council wants to try a recreational marijuana tax, it will have to act fairly quickly, especially if it intends to advertise and then hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance before Nov. 4. So it's possible he'll come back with a draft when the council meets again Sept. 24.

It would be surprising if the Albany council has the stomach for more marijuana debates. It spent months on a proposal to ban medical marijuana dispensaries before finally deciding last spring, in a 4-3 vote, to allow them. (hh)

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