Oregon Cities, Counties Seek Right to Tax Marijuana

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Oregon municipalities could sue the state for the right to set their own taxes on marijuana sales, according to lawyers for some cities and counties.

The state’s recreational cannabis law – passed in November by voters – says municipalities can’t impose their own taxes, and that retail shops can only be banned if enough signatures are gathered to put the measure on a city or county ballot.

The provision was specifically written that way over to assuage fears that high taxes would force shop owners to boost prices, making it harder to compete with black market sellers.

But some municipalities want the Oregon Legislature to rewrite the initiative so that they can levy their own taxes on rec sales or ban shops from opening.

Officials from cities and groups representing municipalities in the state have said forcing them to allow rec shops may run afoul of federal law.

The political wrangling has ramped up as Oregon lawmakers work to set regulations governing the state’s rec market. Stores are set to open next year if legislators can work out rules and regulations.