The state’s cities and counties, including in North Central Washington, will receive their first chunk of marijuana excise-tax funds in 2016.
WENATCHEE — Cities and counties, including those in North Central Washington, will next year receive their first slice of the excise tax collected on retail-marijuana sales in their jurisdictions.
Allocations for North Central Washington counties range from $30,388 in Douglas County to $12,380 in Okanogan County, the Olympia-based Association of Washington Cities reported.
East Wenatchee tops the list for cities in the region with $20,225, followed by Wenatchee with $18,599.
The distributions are made possible by a revision in the state’s recreational-marijuana law that allows cities and counties that have not banned the sale, production and processing of the product to receive a portion of the excise tax collected. These revenues must be used for marijuana enforcement, the association said in a news release.
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Total allocations come from the 37 percent excise tax that the state Liquor and Cannabis Control Board collects on the retail sale price of legal marijuana and marijuana-infused products.
The allocation of each jurisdiction is based on actual excise tax collected during the fiscal year July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.
This first year’s payments — 2016’s — are funded from a legislative appropriation based on actual sales, Mikhail Carpenter, spokesman for the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board, said Thursday. Starting in 2017, the allocations will come directly from excise tax collected on retail sales.
Excise-tax allocations from pot sales are on top of the slice of retail-sales tax that cities and counties already collect on the retail sale of all taxable goods and services.
“We’ve argued all along that a portion of the excise tax needs to come to the cities to deal with issues associated with marijuana,” Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz said Thursday. “Getting some money back feels like it’s the right thing to do. We’ll use it for public safety.”
After initial, broad acceptance of marijuana as just another agricultural product, both Chelan and Douglas counties have recently taken steps back and imposed moratoriums on new marijuana producers and processors.
The moratoriums, they say, will give them time to deal with county residents’ complaints that pot growing and processing is smelly and with fears that the businesses could increase crime.
For county commissioners, the first excise-tax allocations are a start, but insufficient to fund potential solutions that could include special zoning; a requirement that all growing and processing be done indoors; and rules to require marijuana businesses to install equipment to eliminate the odor.
“It’s not that we’re concerned, but will roll over if we get some money,” Douglas County Commissioner Ken Stanton said Thursday. “It’s not just that we want our cut. We’ll be looking at where these things are located … .”
Chelan County Commissioner Doug England agrees.
“It’s a start, but it doesn’t meet the increased obligation the county has to meet,” England said of the first allocations. Chelan County commissioners plan to discuss the moratorium Nov. 10.
Washington voters approved use of recreational pot in 2012. Legal retail sales began in July 2014.