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The first distributions of state marijuana tax revenues — totaling nearly $85 million — are on their way.
County, city and state officials were notified last week that the money is en route, but none know how much each will receive. Checks should arrive this week.
The bulk, $34 million, or 40 percent of revenue, will go to the State School Fund. Mental health, alcoholism and drug services will receive 20 percent, or $17 million; Oregon State Police will get 15 percent, or $12.75 million; the Oregon Health Authority will get 5 percent, or $4.25 million; and cities and counties will each get 10 percent, totalling of $17 million.
The Department of Revenue collected $108.6 million in state and local marijuana taxes between Jan. 4, 2016 and Aug. 31 of this year, of which $94.55 million will go to the various agencies. The difference, $9.56 million, will go to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to reimburse it for start-up expenses and regulating sales, and to the Department of Revenue for administrative costs in collecting and distributing revenue.
Local taxes collected on behalf of cities and counties are distributed quarterly. Brookings, Gold Beach and Curry County each tax recreational marijuana sales at 3 percent.
There are two formulas for calculating the amounts due to cities and counties, making guesswork more complicated, state officials admit.
One is for revenue collected before July 1, 2017 and the other for collections after that date.
Both are based on that city’s or county’s populations.
The distribution formula that applies to tax revenues collected after July 1, 2017, only municipalities that allow all license types — medical and recreational — are eligible for part of the total. For cities, the share is based on population (75 percent) and the sum of grower, wholesaler, processor and retailer licenses (25 percent).
For counties’ share, half is based on the total available grow canopy area in the county and the other half on the sum of wholesaler, processor and retailer licenses. Counties that opt out of marijuana grows are ineligible for that part of the distribution based on grow canopy area. Counties that opt out of wholesaler, processor or retailer licenses are ineligible for the part of the distribution based on license count.
Some critics have contended that the distribution should be changed to reflect the amount of sales each county or city reaps, noting that a rural county with one store and fewer sales will receive a larger portion of money than a similar-sized county with robust sales.
Curry County has 10 marijuana dispensaries, of which five are in Brookings. Three more are south of the Chetco River bridge, and others are pending. Only one, Banana Belt Safe Access, in Harbor, has closed since voters approved the legalization of marijuana sales in Oregon.