On May 18th, Oregon legislators revealed a marijuana sales tax proposal that would replace the harvest tax previously approved by voters.
The proposed sales tax came as a part of a 104 page amendment centered around the implementation of the marijuana legalization initiative approved by voters in November 2014. The proposal didn’t include any specified percentage for taxing as staffers still work to create tax structure that will raise as much revenue as the proposed harvest tax.
The move towards a sales tax comes as legislators on the House-Senate marijuana committee believe it has multiple advantages over the tax proposals in the Measure 91 initiative for regulating recreational sales. Measure 91 proposed prices including a $35-an-ounce tax on marijuana flowers, as well as a $10-an-ounce tax on leaves.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski believes the sales tax would be beneficial to accommodate constant fluctuations in the price of marijuana. He said that marijuana flowers have dropped in price recently and that a set tax of $35-an-ounce could make legal marijuana uncompetitive with the black market prices.
The proposed sales tax would allow for recreational and medical marijuana sales to come from the same retailer by simply excluding medical marijuana patients from paying the tax at the time of purchase.
Sen. Prozanski said that he believed that the Oregon Health Authority, which currently is responsible for medical marijuana regulation, could oversee temporary sales to recreational consumers while a permanent retail system is put together.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has said that the state won’t be able to have licensed retailers selling recreational marijuana until the fall of 2016. This has legislators beginning to create their own proposals to speed up the start of taxed marijuana sales.
Sen. Ted Ferrioli has been pushing to begin temporary sales on July 1st in order to allow Oregonians to purchase marijuana the same day possession becomes legal. The proposal has attracted a lot of interest from other legislators, but it seems it will face to many obstacles to become a reality.
Sen. Prozanski is currently working on a proposal to temporarily begin recreational sales by medical marijuana dispensaries on October 1st.