Rivers bill would send some pot tax revenue to cities counties

first_imgA measure that would give local cities and counties a cut of marijuana tax revenue was heard Monday in Olympia.Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, is backing the bill and said the proposal is crucial to help local public safety efforts. When voters approved Initiative 502, legalizing recreational marijuana, Rivers said, they were told it would decrease crime. “We were promised time and time again it was going to be a tremendous savings to public safety,” Rivers said. “Jails would be empty, we wouldn’t have any more marijuana-related crime. We’ve found quite the opposite.” Rivers’ proposal would use money previously earmarked for the State Basic Health Plan, which provided subsidized health care for low-income residents. The program was eliminated under federal health care reforms.Rivers would like to redirect the funds, but only towns, cities, and counties that have not banned marijuana producers, processors or retailers would receive the money. Vancouver and Battle Ground are the only two Clark County cities that allow marijuana businesses. Eric Johnson, executive director of the Washington Association of County Officials, testified that revenue-sharing is “extremely important to our citizens.” Legislative analysts estimate the measure could send $63 million to local municipalities in the next two-year budget cycle, $114 million in 2017-19 and $125 million in 2019-21, all earmarked to boost public safety efforts. “It’s a tremendous amount of money,” Rivers said.The estimates could be high, however, the senator said, because she believes the recreational market, which is taxed, is being undercut by the unregulated medical marijuana market.last_img