Washington is handing out $6 million in pot taxes; where will it go?
The state’s ready to dole out tax money collected from marijuana sales over the last fiscal year to local counties and cities.
But distributing the $12 million over two years won’t be so easy. When Washington passed Initiative 502, it didn’t instruct the state to share the tax dollars that it collected from pot sales. That frustrated many county and local municipalities and lead to the passing of House Bill 2136, which set in place a program of tax fund sharing between the state, counties and cities.
“The original initiative — Initiative 502 — didn’t provide for any revenue going to cities or counties, so we think this is a good first step,” said Candice Bock, a government relations advocate with the Association of Washington Cities.
There will be $6 million distributed this year, and another $6 million next year. The money is coming in quarterly installments, and takes into account the amount of marijuana sales within a jurisdiction.
“The first quarter distribution went out on Sept. 30…the next distribution will go out in December,” Bock said.
Vancouver, in southern Washington, will collect the most tax money in the state at nearly $800,000 according to The Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Tacoma came in second, making about $450,000 off legal marijuana sales. Seattle will get about $380,000.
Tacoma is an interesting example. The state is handing 60 percent of the pot tax funds to counties, and 40 percent to cities. But Tacoma’s surrounding county, Pierce County, banned pot sales, therefore, all the tax funds go directly to Tacoma.
As a whole, King County will take in nearly a million dollars in tax money from marijuana sales last year.
How local jurisdictions will spend the money isn’t exactly known. Bock said the marijuana tax funds will go into general fund accounts.
“It’s very broad,” Bock said of HB 2136, that allows the state to share the tax funds. “It references public safety, it references marijuana enforcement. It doesn’t define those two things. Those are pretty broad categories.”
“It does provide them a great deal of flexibility,” she said.