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Ashland voters approve three city measures

Ashland voters approved a trio of measures on the ballot by large margins, voting to levy a 3 percent tax on sales of recreational marijuana sales in the city, allow use of a portion of food and beverage tax revenues to pay for street maintenance and to support state legislative efforts to reform Oregon's health care system.

The marijuana tax led 8,609 votes to 2,604, 76 to 23 percent, in vote totals released by Jackson County at 10 a.m. Tuesday. That’s in addition to a 17 percent state tax that went on recreational marijuana on Oct. 1. The rate is the maximum allowed by state law on recreational pot and its product. The law does not apply to medical marijuana in dispensaries licensed by the Oregon Health Authority.

The council asked voters to approve an advisory to the state Legislature calling for an improved comprehensive healthcare system for all state residents. It passed 9,423 to 1,339 or 87 to 12 percent. The plan — which is only advisory and does not affect any existing rules or laws — is designed to ensure provider choice, bring new cost controls, provide equitable access, emphasize prevention over drugs and other treatment and be affordable to families, businesses and society, according to the brief filed with the city recorder.

By a vote of 8,633 to 2,176 or 79 to 20 percent, voters approved use of the city food and beverage tax for street repair. The tax on restaurant meals remains at 5 percent. It currently directs 20 percent of receipts toward buying park land and developing it and 80 percent to debt service on the city wastewater treatment plant. With passage, the distribution to parks increases to 25 percent — and some of the wastewater funds can now go into a street fund for “pavement management.”