Local officials in states with legal cannabis laws want a bigger cut of revenue, arguing that recreational marijuana creates a burden for cities and towns.
NPR reports on the movement among local officials in Colorado, Washington and Oregon to push for more money to deal with fallout from legal cannabis. In Oregon, at least 70 local governments have passed ordinances seeking local taxes on recreational pot.
Scott Winkels, a lobbyist with the League of Oregon Cities, tells reporter Conrad Wilson:
“We reasonably expect to see an increase in things like drug driving,” he says. “How many neighborhood complaints to the city manager has the state dealt with because of odor? When that smoke comes wafting over the fence and somebody’s upset that their kids are smelling it, who’s going to take that call? It’s going to be your local government.”
In Washington, Alison Holcomb, national director of the ACLU Campaign to End Mass Incarceration and author of Initiative 502, the state’s legalization law, said she’d like to see proof of local governments’ marijuana-related costs.
The primary costs that cities were bearing from marijuana laws was the costs of criminal enforcement,” Holcomb says.
“The number of police officers that were having to process paperwork on marijuana charges, and the overwhelming majority of those marijuana charges being for simple possession.”
In 2011, the Washington State Patrol made nearly 7,000 misdemeanor drug arrests. Last year, that number dropped to 820. “So it’s hard to see what the increased law enforcement cost is,” she says. “It looks like it should be a decreased law enforcement cost.”
On marijuana, Oregon cities ask for big rewrite of voter-approved legalization law (Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian/Oregonlive)
Marijuana legalization: Oregon lawmakers will be asked to decide whether to allow local pot taxes (Jeff Mapes/The Oregonian/Oregonlive)
No local taxes on retail marijuana: Editorial Agenda 2015 (Editorial, The Oregonian/Oregonlive)
— Noelle Crombie