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Committee Proposes 20 Percent Sales Tax On Recreational Marijuana

Brennan Linsley
Associated Press
An employee arranges glass display containers of marijuana on shelves at a retail and medical cannabis dispensary in Boulder, Colorado, in Aug. 2016.

Mainers could pay a 20 percent sales tax on purchases of recreational marijuana if a bill proposed by the Legislature’s marijuana implementation committee becomes law.

The tax is double what was proposed in a ballot initiative approved by voters last year. But it’s similar to the effective tax rates in the seven other states that allow for the retail sale of recreational marijuana.

David Boyer, who helped lead the ballot campaign last year, said he’s OK with the proposed increase as long it doesn’t encourage continued use of Maine’s robust illicit market.

“We’re not a fan of raising the tax rate any higher than 20 percent, given that Massachusetts has theirs at 20 percent and given that there is a robust illicit market in Maine and we have to be mindful of that,” he said.

The marijuana implementation committee originally proposed keeping the sales tax at 10 percent while adding a 10 percent excise tax that would apply to retailers purchasing from cultivators. But the excise tax was scrapped from the 70-page bill that was released Tuesday.

The proposal also includes a revenue sharing mechanism for cities and towns that allow retail marijuana operations and cultivation.

It also proposes a testing and tracking system for commercial growing and sales, and it establishes license fees and other requirements for cultivators and retailers.

The implementation committee will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Sept. 26.