Local leaders propose marijuana grower tax

Josephine County, Ore. —  Taxing pot to pay for protection – that’s the new proposal coming from Josephine County. According to Josephine County Commissioner Dan DeYoung, the initiative would charge a certain amount of money per square footage of canopy for recreational growers.

Medicinal growers would pay taxes based on the number of plants, whichever county the grower resides in – that’s where it’s taxes will go back to. The initiative covers all Southwest Oregon counties – Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson and Josephine.

For Josephine County, that means supporting public safety.

The exact amount each marijuana grower would pay hasn’t yet been determined. According to Commissioner DeYoung, the initiative has the potential to bring in millions of dollars.

“We need a source of revenue in order to provide the law enforcement for the laws that the state has put down but the federal government’s got a real issue right now – and we need that law enforcement,” said Josephine County Commissioner Dan DeYoung.

DeYoung along with other local leaders have been developing a pilot project that would tax marijuana growers.

“This is going to do it. This will pay for that law enforcement – without attaching property taxes,” DeYoung said.

That money would go toward whatever the county needs. For Josephine County, that’s public safety.

“We don’t have any money. No resources, to hire enough resources to enforce those laws that the state put out,” DeYoung said.

Commissioner DeYoung said 30% of recreational marijuana dispensed in the state of Oregon comes from Jackson and Josephine counties.

“Josephine County does not have suitable, sustainable funding. That went away in 2012 with the SRS and timber receipt monies,” said Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said.

Though the addition of the public safety levy last May has helped the sheriff’s office with its patrols, it’ll need more to fend off illegal grows.

“I cannot ask young men and women to put on the badge, put on a gun, and put on a bulletproof vest for free. They won’t do it – and I don’t blame them,” DeYoung said.

“We have to start taking care of ourselves and if we are going to start addressing the black marijuana market that’s out there – I’ll need personnel for that,” Sheriff Daniel said.

The initiative still has a couple hoops to jump through before leaving the decision to the public, including approval from the legislature. But if all goes well in Salem, locals could see the initiative on November’s ballot.

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