Could pot taxes lower property taxes?

    I know there’s a formula for how the state spends marijuana taxes, i.e. so much for schools, law enforcement, addiction, etc. But my question is: How do Jackson County, Medford and other local governments spend the marijuana money they get? Is it earmarked for specific uses, or does it get rolled into the general fund? I thought about it as I paid my property taxes, which went up again this year. Maybe they could use it to lower our property taxes since all these marijuana farms are lowering our property values.

    — Curious Taxpayer

    Yes, property taxes have gone up again, Curious Taxpayer, but they usually do, which I'm sure you've noticed in years past.

    Cities and counties throughout Oregon received 20 percent of the $85 million collected in marijuana taxes, and the money was released in October. The total amount for cities and counties is $17 million, with cities and counties sharing the proceeds equally.

    You are correct, Curious Taxpayer, that the bulk of the state tax revenue goes to education at 40 percent, mental health and alcoholism at 20 percent, state law enforcement at 15 percent, and the Oregon Health Authority at 5 percent.

    We know what you're probably thinking: $17 million for counties and cities seems like a lot, but remember, that is spread out across the state.

    For instance, Medford received $248,638 for its share of the taxes from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, which includes an extra 3-percent hike approved by local voters. And, yes, these taxes are placed into the general fund.

    Now, the local share of these taxes sounds like a lot to you or any of us underpaid Since You Asked staff members, but it's not much in the scheme of things and would hardly make a dent in property taxes, which for all the taxing districts in the county amount to almost $300 million.

    County officials have also been fielding more complaints from rural residents about pot grow sites, requiring more time spent by code enforcement and law enforcement officers. As a result, you guessed it, Curious Taxpayer — that will eat up some of that newfound tax money.

    As to property values declining, the Jackson County Assessor sent out a report with our property tax statements this month that shows real market values have risen year-over-year in most areas of the county.

    — Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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