Less than 24 hours before the ballot deadline Tuesday, North Plains has given itself the authority to tax marijuana in the event it becomes legal.
The North Plains City Council unanimously passed an ordinance placing a 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana and marijuana-infused products Monday night, Nov. 3, making it law just in time to stand a chance of being grandfathered in before the possible passage of Measure 91.
The council approved the first reading of the ordinance in a special meeting Wednesday, Oct. 29, so they could hold the second reading before Election Day, when the passage of Measure 91 would legalize the use of recreational marijuana and grant the state exclusive authority to tax it.
Measure 91 would also “supersede and repeal inconsistent charters and ordinances” at the local level, meaning it could invalidate the city taxes anyway. But North Plains, like many others before it, decided it couldn’t hurt to try getting a city tax grandfathered in.
In the most recent Oregon Public Broadcasting poll of 516 likely voters, 52 percent said they support Measure 91 while 41 percent said they oppose it.
If Measure 91 passes, most council members don’t see North Plains harboring much of a recreational marijuana market, whether or not the city tax holds up.
“I don’t see us being a mecca for [marijuana],” council president Teri Lenahan said.
City manager Martha DeBry doesn’t “see people driving over the hills” to buy marijuana in North Plains, either.
But the city wouldn’t want to be seen as a discount destination compared to nearby cities that do have similar taxes, DeBry said.
The city lifted its ordinance from Hillsboro’s, which the larger city’s council passed Sept. 30, joining Cornelius, Lake Oswego, Forest Grove and other municipalities in the state. Banks, on the other hand, voted against a similar measure on Oct. 15.
The ordinance also includes a zero-percent tax on medical marijuana. After a few minutes of discussion Wednesday, city council members decided it was smart to include the zero percent tax because while it would leave medical marijuana essentially untaxed for now, it could at least establish that medical marijuana may be taxed, and they might be able to change the tax amount later if they wanted to.
All council members were present Monday except for Robert Kindel, who is in the hospital recovering from surgery after he fell off a ladder and broke his pelvis and hip socket, according to an email from Cindy Hirst, secretary for the North Plains Chamber of Commerce.
— Hannah Leone | @HannahMLeone