Craig council smokes tax hike on recreational marijuana
Editor’s note: this report has been updated to reflect the council’s workshop will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 10 inside Craig’s City Hall.
Craig City Council voted at its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 27 to lower the sales and excise taxes that could be levied on recreational marijuana sold in Craig.
If voters approve several ballot questions related to marijuana in November, the city’s ensuing marijuana ordinance would cap any additional sales tax at 4% and eliminate any additional excise taxes entirely.
City council has debated the taxes heavily at each of their last few meetings. During the regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 13, some councilors decided the previous 5% sales and 5% excise taxes on marijuana sold in Craig weren’t enough.
Councilman Chris Nichols made the motion to raise and cap the taxes at 10% to allow any future council to change the sales and excise taxes on local marijuana as they see fit.
“I’d recommend starting out at zero to be competitive with our neighbors,” Nichols said Tuesday of any variable tax on recreational marijuana in Craig.
But Nichols also wants future councils to have the option of adding the taxes easily if the area’s economy forcers more budget constraints.
“They may look at this down the road as a means to fund the city,” Nichols said Tuesday.
Much of Tuesday night’s debate came after Councilor Paul James motioned to table the proposed ordinance No. 1098 taxes indefinitely, a motion seconded by Councilor Steve Mazzuca. Councilor Andrea Camp also signaled she was averse to any extra taxes on Craig’s possible new marijuana industry.
James’ motion to table the taxes indefinitely and not allow the tax question to be put before voters in November was ultimately defeated by the rest of the government body — councilors Tony Bohrer, Brian MacKenzie, Chris Nichols and Mayor Jarrod Ogden.
Moments after James’s motion was defeated, MacKenzie motioned to eliminate the excise taxes and lower the cap on any extra sales taxes on marijuana to 4%. Nichols seconded and the motion passed with Camp, James, and Mazzuca voting no again on any additional taxes.
Tuesday’s No. 1098 taxing ordinance is one of at least three marijuana-related ballot questions that could be put before voters in November.
They include ordinance No. 1096 asking voters to approve the sale of retail marijuana and marijuana products at dispensaries in Craig along with ordinance No. 1097 asking voters to approve retail marijuana cultivation businesses, retail marijuana manufacturing businesses, retail marijuana test facilities, and retail marijuana off-premises storage businesses in the city of Craig.
Lastly, voters must cast their choice on resolution No. 16, asking to approve the city’s underlying marijuana ordinance if voters were to approve of retail marijuana in Craig by voting yes on ordinances 1096 and 1097. Both the 1096 and 1097 ordinances were approved Tuesday by council for the ballot in November with Bohrer being the only dissenting vote on both.
“This is the big kahuna, the meat and potatoes,” Craig City Attorney Sherman Romney said of resolution No. 16.
Romney said council doesn’t have to pass resolution No. 16 as quickly as the others that need to go on the ballot in November, leaving time to work out issues such as a possible change in the number of marijuana business licenses allowed in Craig and setback distances between marijuana businesses, schools, or other sensitive facilities.
Bohrer motioned to table Tuesday’s approval of resolution No. 16 to give council more time to sort out the details in another workshop. The motion was seconded by Mazzuca.
“Because we don’t have to pass this tonight,” Bohrer said.
“You don’t,” Romney said.
Bohrer’s motion passed unanimously and council scheduled its next marijuana workshop, which will be open to the public at 5 p.m. Sept. 10 at Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.