Last week, Rob Bovett, the lobbyist representing the organizations of Oregon counties and cities, authored a memo calling for the legislature to allow cities and counties to establish local sales taxes on legal marijuana and to have the power to ban marijuana businesses without a vote of the people, in clear contradiction to the legalization initiative passed by the people in the 2014 election.
Following these demands for sweeping changes to marijuana legalization and threats of lawsuits if those demands aren't met, the Portland, Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Portland NORML, has sent a five-page letter seeking clarification from Mr. Bovett. Among the questions in the letter are:
- What good is a citizen's initiative process if a few lobbyists and legislators can overturn its key provisions and pervert its intent?
- Since there is a clear and unambiguous ban on local taxes on all relevant areas of commercial marijuana regulation, what does Mr. Bovett believe the cities and counties could tax about marijuana that would avoid a direct conflict with state law?
- Is it Mr. Bovett's intention to undercut Oregon's ability to abide by the guidelines of the Cole Memo statewide, thus subjecting Oregonians to the threat of federal prosecution?
Statement from Portland NORML Executive Director Russ Belville
"Measure 91 passed in Oregon by the greatest margin of any of the four states that have legalized marijuana. Measure 91 got more votes statewide than any candidate and any measure, except the Equal Rights Amendment. For the legislature to subvert the clear language and intent of the people is a threat not only to the viability of Oregon's legal marijuana market, but to the very foundation of Oregon democracy. Rob Bovett, the Association of Oregon Counties, and the League of Oregon Cities don't seem to understand that low taxation and statewide uniformity are key lessons learned from Washington and Colorado. The taxation and bans Mr. Bovett proposes are welcomed most by the illegal growers and dealers who will be able to undercut and work around them."
A copy of the full letter is attached and also available at http://portlandnorml.org/cities-counties-want-to-subvert-marijuana-legalization-in-oregon/