(Press release from the Grant County Office of County Counsel)
During the last open court session of County Court for 2018, the Court passed an emergency ordinance allowing the Court to collect a three percent tax on recreational marijuana sales in Grant County. The ordinance was passed largely because the sole marijuana retailer had been collecting the tax for sales in the last quarter of 2018 (which was the only quarter in 2018 in which the retailer sold recreational marijuana). In order to receive those taxes collected in 2018, the County needed an ordinance. As the year was coming to a close, time was of the essence. The retailer, in good faith, thought there was a tax and was desirous to give back to the community per the earlier campaign to allow recreational marijuana sales within the County.
By statute, an emergency may not be declared to pass an ordinance which imposes a tax. Any ordinance which imposes a tax must be ratified by the voters before it can take effect. Further, any tax on marijuana must be ratified by the voters at the next statewide general election.
It is possible that the ordinance taxing recreational marijuana sales would have remained undisputed until the next general election, in which it, in all likelihood, would have been ratified by the voters. The local retailer was willing to charge, collect and remit the tax to the County and the County was prepared to accept the tax. But for the three percent tax paid by purchasers of recreational marijuana, there appeared to be little downside. However, scrutiny by the Blue Mountain Eagle brought the issue to light, causing reconsideration of the legality of the ordinance.
The County now intends to rescind the emergency ordinance taxing recreational marijuana at the county level, and revisit the matter closer in time to the next statewide general election. Taxes received by the County from the retailer will be returned to the retailer.