Voters Across Missouri Approve Local Marijuana Tax Ballot Measures

“Today’s votes show that hundreds of communities in every corner of the Show-Me-State want to be part of one of Missouri’s newest and most flourishing industries.”

By Rudi Keller, Missouri Independent

Marijuana will soon be more expensive in dozens of municipalities around the state following Tuesday’s elections where almost all of the local sales tax measures passed handily.

Many voters around the state saw an extra question on their ballots, asking if they wanted to add a 3 percent tax to marijuana and other items sold by dispensaries to recreational users. In all but a handful of cases, the measure passed handily.

Voters in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia all approved their ballot questions, as did Jackson County, St. Louis County and Boone County.

Springfield and Greene County are the most populous areas that did not have a marijuana tax measure on the ballot. Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon told KY3 in February that local officials had decided a crowded ballot, plus a wait-and-see approach to look at initial sales, led to the decision to wait.

In St. Louis County, the new tax passed in 32 of the 36 cities where it was on the ballot, failing in Charlack, Flordell Hills, Northwoods and Velda. It passed in each of the 12 municipalities where it was on the ballot in Jackson County, as well as in four smaller cities of Boone County.

The Joplin Globe reported that voters authorized new taxes countywide in Jasper and Newton counties, as well as in a handful of municipalities within both counties where it appeared on the ballot.

The 3 percent local tax is in addition to the 6 percent state tax on sales of recreational marijuana authorized when voters passed Amendment 3 legalizing marijuana in November.

The local tax does not apply to sales under the medical use laws passed in 2018. Sales of medical marijuana are taxed at 4 percent by the state.

The taxes are in addition to general state and local sales taxes, which can run as high as 10 percent.

The Missouri Cannabis Trade Association, in a statement issued Tuesday night by Executive Director Andrew Mullins, said the high rate of passage for the ballot measures shows cities across the state welcome legal marijuana sales. The association did not have a comprehensive list of all locations where ballot measures were before voters.

There were more than $100 million in sales in the first month after legal sales began, Mullins said.

“Missouri’s adult use marijuana program is already drawing national and international acclaim as one of the most customer-friendly in the nation and today’s votes show that hundreds of communities in every corner of the Show-Me-State want to be part of one of Missouri’s newest and most flourishing industries,” Mullins said.

The new revenue will be used in St. Louis to target communities where marijuana law enforcement had the biggest impacts on economic opportunity and where lack of capital locked people out of the medical marijuana program, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement issued after the city passed the tax with almost 63 percent of the vote.

“I am ready to continue working alongside the new board to use this funding to address historic wrongs in our communities and strengthen neighborhoods across our city,” Jones said.

Under the provisions of the constitution, and unlike other local sales taxes, city and county marijuana sales taxes cannot be stacked. A county marijuana sales tax only applies to dispensaries in unincorporated areas and cannot be charged within municipal boundaries.

“We read it as they are not stackable,” Boone County Presiding Commissioner Kip Kendrick said. “We know that the drafters of the amendment meant for it not to be stackable.”

There is at least one dispensary operating outside of the limits of any city in Boone County, but Kendrick said the tax hike was placed on the ballot to have it in place at the same time it was added in the county’s municipalities.

“We felt that it was important for everything to appear on the ballot with other municipalities and while Amendment 3 was still fresh in everyone’s mind,” Kendrick said.

This story was first published by Missouri Independent.

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