Local jurisdictions that voted against the measure can opt out of legalization.
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
A week before Measure 91 goes into effect in Oregon, the state House passed a bill to implement the legal marijuana marketplace.
After months of negotiation, local jurisdictions that voted against the measure will be allowed to opt out of legalization. Counties or cities that had at least 55 percent of voters against the measure can ban sales.
“I did not support Measure 91. I am voting for this bill because it allows local jurisdictions to prohibit the sale of this drug,” Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, said in a statement.
The bill also creates a tracking system for marijuana so officials can trace pot from seedling to retail sale in order to keep it out of the black market. The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of creating and maintaining a database tracking pot’s path to market, and the bill requires grow sites to register and submit information on the amount of marijuana processed and transferred every month: “We want to help local businesses be successful in this legal market. We want to reduce illegal activity and transactions that are not in accordance with these laws. We want to keep kids and communities safe,” said Rep. Ann Lininger, a Democrat from Lake Oswego who carried the bill.
(SOURCE: Associated Press)
The bill now heads to the Senate, "where it is also likely to pass," the Portland Tribune writes.
The legislature hopes the tracking system will limit the prevalence of black market marijuana sales.
House Bill 3400 would also retroactively reduce the classifications for crimes related to the manufacture, delivery and possession of marijuana in Oregon. Rep. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, said the bill is an important step toward ending the war on drugs that has disproportionately impacted communities of color and lower-income people. Frederick said he attended college in the 1970s in a mostly white community.
“Pot was commonplace,” Frederick said, but it was less common for law enforcement to go after students who used the drug. Studies have found poor people and minorities were charged with marijuana crimes at disproportionate rates, Frederick said, “while others have toked up in safety for decades.”
(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)
An economist for the Oregon Legislature testified that a sales tax on the crop would yield cheaper prices and more revenue for the state.
Mazen Malik, a senior economist in the Legislative Revenue Office, said the 17 percent sales tax that lawmakers are considering would still result in lower prices for recreational marijuana in Oregon as compared to Washington and Colorado, which impose higher taxes at multiple points in the production process. Oregon lawmakers want to replace the weight-based excise tax the state would charge growers under Measure 91, the initiative voters passed in November to legalize marijuana, with a sales tax that would raise the same amount of revenue.
Malik said that retail recreational marijuana prices would be lower with a sales tax when compared with a harvest tax, because a harvest tax would increase the markup cost of cannabis before it reaches consumers. Malik estimated the change would lower the cost of retail recreational marijuana in Oregon from approximately $300 per ounce to $277 per ounce.
(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)
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