Grants Pass marijuana tax up in the air

Grants Pass, Ore. — The City of Grants Pass is no longer taxing marijuana, for the time being. It put its tax program on hold this week, after concerns about how much the city was collecting.

It all comes down to timing – Grants Pass’ tax went into effect before a state law regulated how much cities and counties can collect. That’s caused confusion and put the city council in a tough spot.

“Cannabis is a really new industry, it’s a really exciting industry and it’s growing everyday,” said Carrie Boltz. Boltz is the co-owner of Diamond Cannabis in downtown Grants Pass.

In May, the City of Grants Pass approved three new marijuana shops. Two of which, are already up and running. The issue now, how much customers should pay in taxes.

“There is a difference between the City of Grants Pass taxes and the one that is prescribed by the state of Oregon,” Davis Reeves said, Assistant City Manager.

Last year, Grants Pass passed a 10% tax on recreational marijuana and a 5% tax on medical sales. Then the state stepped in to regulate the industry, and voters passed a 17% tax on recreational marijuana and 3% tax on medicinal marijuana.

Local governments can add their own taxes, but can’t charge more than an extra 3% above state levels, and they have to have voter approval.

“It causes issues. You like to know what it is that you’re going into and community by community it can be different,” Reeves said.

The differences are even apparent store by store. The owner of Southern Oregon Cannabis Connection hasn’t been collecting the Grants Pass tax at all.

“Our store hasn’t been collecting the tax. We started out collecting a 3% tax. But we dropped that shortly after collecting it and stopped collecting it completely,” Fred Tamayo said. Tamayo is the owner of Southern Oregon Cannabis Connection.

Down the street, Diamond Cannabis has been collecting all the taxes required.

“We were aware that the city was still trying to figure it out. But in the meantime, we wanted to be 100% compliant,” Boltz said.

No matter what the numbers, Oregon law now requires voters to have a say. That means, the issue has to go on the local ballot, so the city council is planning to discuss its options next week and put a hold on the current tax until then.

“The council thought rather than have the confusion – go ahead and let the stores know they don’t need to collect that,” Reeves said.

Whatever happens, the owners of both Grant Pass marijuana stores said they want what’s best for the communities that support them.

“We want everybody to be able to gain from what we’re doing here,” Tamayo said.

“We want to work with the community to make it an easy process for everyone to learn and grow together,” Boltz said.

City council will meet next Wednesday at 6 p.m. It will discuss what to do with the current tax. That might mean doing away with it until it can talk about it further or until it goes to voters.

NBC5 News Reporter and Weather Forecaster Nikki Torres graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Strategic Communication from The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

She also received a minor in Business Administration from the Washington State University Carson College of Business. Prior to coming to NBC5, Nikki was an intern at KHQ Local News, the NBC affiliate in Spokane.

She comes to Southern Oregon from the state of Washington, where she grew up just south of Seattle. She loves running, exploring the Pacific Northwest, watching a good football game and spending time with her dog, Gisele. True to her roots, Nikki is a proud WSU Cougar fan and loyal Seahawks fan.

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