OLYMPIA – Changes to the state’s marijuana taxes and the way they will be spent received final approval from the Senate and were sent to Gov. Jay Inslee Saturday.
After rejecting a proposal that would allow communities that ban marijuana to share some of the state’s revenue from the heavily taxed substance, the Senate voted 36-7 to approve the changes. The bill substitutes the current 25 percent excise tax on marijuana on the three levels of licensing – growing, processing and retail – for a 37 percent excise tax collected by the retailer. Recreational marijuana also will carry a 10 percent sales tax. That tax will be waived for medical marijuana.
The bill allows city councils and county commissions to enact bans on marijuana businesses within their borders, but says the state won’t share money for law enforcement if they do. It sets aside about $50 million for youth drug prevention and marijuana research at state universities, and funnels money into the state general fund that will be used for Medicaid clients as federal money from the Affordable Care Act drops.
The House approved the bill Friday. Combined with a separate bill that blends the state’s separate recreational and medical marijuana systems, it represents a major change in taxing and spending for the new industry. But Sen. Ann Rivers, R-Vancouver, said the Legislature probably will make more adjustments next year.
“We’re not done with this by a long shot,” she said.
Spokane-area legislators who voted yes were Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane; Andy Billig, D-Spokane; Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley; and Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville.
Brian Dansel, R-Republic, voted no.
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