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Schools Got the Munchies
Marijuana sales revenue to schools may go up in smoke

In 2014, Oregon was the 3rd state in the nation to make possession and sale of recreational marijuana legal. 56% of Oregonians voted in favor of Ballot Measure 91. In Multnomah County, 69% of the voters approved it. In Nov. 2014, the Oregonian published an article on the passage of Ballot Measure 91. Longtime Advocate Anthony Johnson was quoted as saying "We have ended a painful, discriminatory, harmful policy that has terrible consequences for our state, we replaced it with a policy that is smarter, more humane...It's a policy whose time has come." Ballot Measure 91 was a way to correct the racially disproportionate citation, arrest and conviction of minorities related to marijuana use. However, one of the other selling features was the large portion, 40%, of the revenue that would be sent to help with the state school fund.

In 2020, Ballot Measure 110 was approved by 58% of the voters. It made personal non-commercial possession of a controlled substance no more than a Class E violation (max fine of $100 fine) and established a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded in part by the state's marijuana tax revenue and state prison savings. What was not widely known by voters was that the Common State School fund would also be taking a reduction in revenue from marijuana sales in order to help create the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund.

Now, less that four months after the passage of Ballot Measure 110, HB 3112 has been introduced by a group of Democratic Representative and Senators looking to change the formula yet again. One of the chief Sponsors of the bill, first term Representative Ruiz (D-Gresham) testified in the Judiciary Committee earlier this month that “HB 3112 creates the Cannabis Equity Fund. This fund is aimed to invest in home ownership, job placement, skill building, small business support and education for Black, Indigenous, and Latin X communities. The inequities between Oregonians are addressable and the growing cannabis industry presents us with the ability to address them.”

Representative Ruiz was joined by many other supports of the legislation. In written testimony from the Office of Community & Civic Life, Cannabis Program, they shared that “over 100 years of draconian cannabis policies and disparate cannabis related arrests, convictions, and sentencing have had long-lasting legal, social, economic, and inter-generational consequences to these specific communities….and HB 3112 is an opportunity for the state to pass the most comprehensive and truly effective cannabis equity legislation in the United States”.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

The bill also establishes the Cannabis Equity Board within the Governor’s office to provide equity oversight of Oregon’s cannabis industry. It would monitor and oversee the new Cannabis Equity Fund formed by redirecting marijuana tax revenues from the Oregon marijuana account and the elimination of the existing Oregon marijuana account currently overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The Board would make sure that the cannabis industry does everything possible to address diversity and represent communities most negatively impacted by the historic cannabis prohibition. It would also give direction to OLCC regarding licensing for those in the marijuana industry and include a reduced-fee equity license for those applicants that have been convicted of a marijuana related crime in the past that are also from a minority group.

The Oregon Department of Revenue prepared a report for the committee on the Marijuana tax distribution showing the history of Ballot Measure 91, the changes already passed in Ballot Measure 110 and the projections if HB 3112 passes. Using projected revenues from the Office of Economic Analysis for the 21-23 biennium, $318.45M was used to show the distribution of the adopted ballot measure compared to the proposed HB 3112. The change would look as follows:

Ballot
Measure 91
Ballot
Measure 110
HB 3112
Transferred to the Common School Fund $103.5 M $36 M $27 M
Transferred to the Oregon Health Authority $51.7 M $18 M $3.375 M
Transferred to the Oregon State Police Account $38.8 M $13.5 M $0
Sent to Cities $25.7 M $9 M $6.75 M
Sent to Counties $25.7 M $9 M $6.75 M
Transferred to the Oregon Health Authority $12.9 M $$4.5 M $13.5 M
Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund NA $228.45 M $228.45 M
Cannabis Equity Fund NA NA $22.5 M
Cannabis Equity Fund (formerly Oregon State Police NA NA $10.125 M

What was not discussed in the hearing on the bill, was the loss and redirection of the marijuana funding and the impacts to the Common School Fund. Ballot Measure 110 cut the Common School Fund by almost 1/3. HB 3112 would cut it by 75% from the original Ballot Measure 91 in 2014. There was also no discussion about the additional restrictions that HB 3112 would place on the funds that the Common School Fund would still receive. The bill removes the “State School Fund ORS 327.008 – which is the state school general fund and replaces it with restrictions that are culturally targeted. It says that money received by the state school fund must be used under the following restrictions: The bill will have another hearing on March 23 and it is scheduled for a work session on April 8.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-22 17:14:14Last Update: 2021-03-22 21:46:11



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