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Jackson County repeals local pot tax

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has repealed a voter-approved marijuana tax because it runs afoul of a new state law.

Jackson County voters approved the tax with 63 percent of the vote during a special March election.

The commissioners' unanimous Thursday vote to repeal a county tax of up to 25 percent on medical and recreational marijuana doesn't spell the end of a marijuana tax.

This summer Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 3400 into law, which allows cities and counties to impose up to a 3 percent sales tax on marijuana.

Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer said commissioners had to repeal the locally approved marijuana tax to get the county in line with state law.

Commissioner Colleen Roberts said she has heard from local residents upset that the local tax would be dropped because they feel their voices weren't heard by the Oregon Legislature.

Although the locally approved tax of up to 25 percent was blocked, Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said its March passage helped convince state legislators to allow counties and cities to adopt a tax of up to 3 percent.

"It did get us a 3 percent tax statewide," he said.

Breidenthal said he wanted to applaud the decision by county voters to pass the tax in March.

"It did have a statewide impact," he said.

Breidenthal was on an Oregon Liquor Control Commission rules advisory committee that helped develop the state's rules on marijuana.

Earlier this year, commissioners voted to set the county tax rate at zero percent for one year while they waited to see what would happen in Salem.

Commissioners had put the local tax before voters to pay for added law enforcement and regulatory costs they believed would be triggered by marijuana legalization.

The cost of the special March election for the marijuana tax vote was $105,614, according to the Jackson County Elections Office.

Marijuana proponents have argued legalization will reduce law enforcement costs and could be an economic boon for the community. They point to the jobs and businesses created by the wine and craft beer industries.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.