JOSEPH — The recent voter approval of a 3% tax on marijuana in the city of Joseph leaves some questions to be answered, including just what the proceeds will go toward.
City Administrator Larry Braden said the measure allows several ways it can be spent: on infrastructure, parks, education of the public and city staff, education at the schools if school officials desire it and “enhancing the livability of the community.”
This latter item is quite open for interpretation, Braden said Thursday, Nov. 12.
“It’s pretty general on the purpose, so the city has the freedom to spend money how it sees fit,” he said. “That could mean sky’s the limit under that language.”
Although the ballot measure 32-004 said the 3% tax will be imposed on “marijuana items,” that only includes consumable items with marijuana such as straight marijuana or marijuana extracts, edibles and tinctures, said Mark Pettinger, a spokesman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in Pendleton, which regulates marijuana in the state.
“It applies to anything in which the marijuana flower has been turned into a value-added item,” he said.
The only marijuana dispensary in the county is M Thrive Organics in Joseph. Owner Getty Pollard did not respond to several email requests for comments and employees at the dispensary said they are not allowed to comment to the media.
The “marijuana items” language brings to mind drug-related paraphernalia, such as pipes and bongs sold at the Peace Pipe, also in Joseph. Owner Sean Flanagan agreed that his products are not covered under OLCC regulation.
“They never have been in the state of Oregon,” he said Thursday.
The tax levy passed on the Nov. 3 ballot with about 73% approval. The City Council had previously approved an ordinance authorizing the tax and designating the previously mentioned uses. State law requires such an ordinance.
“The City Council was adamant about keeping the funds from the tax to benefit the citizens of Joseph,” Joseph Mayor Teresa Sajonia said in October.