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Portland Commissioner Seeks to Expunge Prior Weed Convictions with Pot Tax

Maureen Meehan

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Starting next year, Oregon will decrease its current 25 percent tax on recreational pot to 17 percent, with an option for cities and counties to collect up to an additional three percent more in taxes, if voters agree.

Portland Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, has an idea for how to spend that extra three percent—around $3 million a year—that will appeal to both law enforcement and marijuana advocates.

Fritz wants to use the pot tax to pay for drug and alcohol treatment, neighborhood small businesses, street safety and to help Portlanders who have suffered professionally and economically as a result of pre-legalization pot convictions.

“For instance, helping with expunging people’s records who were convicted of cannabis-related crimes that wouldn’t be a crime now,” Fritz said in the Willamette Week.

Commissioner Fritz said conversations with marijuana industry lobbyists convinced her to advocate for people and communities that had been “disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.”

In proposing the additional three percent local pot tax, Fritz stressed the money should be used in a way that is related to how it was raised and said she would ensure it doesn’t go into the general fund.

“There’s been some suggestions to not dedicate it at all or to put it to something that’s not related to marijuana use, and I think the taxes work best when there’s a clear nexus between the people who pay and the people who benefit and to make sure that that’s fair,” Fritz told KOIN 6 News.

The total tax on legal marijuana in Oregon, including the additional three percent, is still significantly lower that neighboring Washington state’s excise tax of 37 percent and Colorado’s levy of 27.9 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.

Meanwhile, Oregon is expected to take in about $43 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana this year under a revised estimate by state economists, reported Oregon Live.

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