Jackson County Commissioners Get Higher Tax Approved

By Angelica Crimmins. Staff Writer

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Marijuana in Jackson County may be more expensive since Jackson County voters decided that county officials can impose up to a 25% sales tax on the green goods.

Last Tuesday evening, ballot measure 15-133 won by 64% with 27,191 votes in favor of the sales tax and 15,287 naysayers. The measure allows the county’s Board of Commissioners to set a tax on the gross sale amount paid to sellers by individuals purchasing marijuana products.

Incorporated cities in the county and individuals who are registered to grow marijuana products for their own consumption will be exempt from the tax. Individuals growing or purchasing for recreational or medical dispensaries will not.

Breeze Botanicals is an artisan medical marijuana dispensary with locations in Ashland and Gold Hill, both of which are within the city limits that will not require them to tax dispensary purchases.

“However, my mission of supporting Southern Oregon farmers is probably out the window,” said Brie Malarkey, Founder and CEO of Breeze Botanicals. “I suppose I’ll only be able to support Josephine county patients and patients that grow within city limits when purchasing for our dispensaries.”

Taxes may be levied to $35 per ounce on flowers, $10 an ounce on leaves, $5 per immature plant.

In a county with the state’s highest number of Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cardholders, medical marijuana patients will be paying up.  Malarkey feels that enforcement of the measure will strike a deadly blow to the new industry at least within the Jackson County taxing area because the price of marijuana will be too expensive for patients, allowing the black market to continue to thrive. “Many of our patients are dealing with debilitating medical conditions and do not have extra money to spend on medical marijuana. Their insurance companies aren’t helping them even though many of them are experiencing a higher quality of life due to the symptom relief medical marijuana provides,” explained Malarkey.

While measure 91 prohibits local governments from imposing their own taxes on marijuana sales many city and county governments have to decided to tax anyway believing they are grandfathered in because the tax was approved prior to the measure going into affect. A legal challenge is expected.

From the state tax revenues, 40 percent will go to the Common School Fund, 20 percent to mental health, alcoholism and drug treatment, another 20 percent to local law enforcement, 15 percent to state police, and 5 percent to the Oregon Health Authority. It’s unclear how Jackson County would ear mark the tax revenue in the county.

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