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Pot petition closed, issue likely settled

Government — Citizen Doug Heuer cites action at state level, does not foresee refiling petition

A citizen petition questioning the city of Newberg’s authority to levy taxes on marijuana has been dismissed and is not likely to be refiled due to action at the state level, plaintiff Doug Heuer said last week.

First filed and later amended in December, the petition aimed to clarify whether the tax the City Council approved on the transfer of marijuana prior to the November passage of Measure 91, which legalized recreational marijuana, was constitutionally valid.

Section 42 of the bill approved by voters stated that “no county or city of this state shall impose any fee or tax … in connection with the purchase, sale, production, processing, transportation and delivery of marijuana items.”

That language has been the subject of debate statewide as more than 70 cities have levied taxes on local pot sales, according to the League of Oregon Cities.

“They’re going against the will of the voters,” Heuer said in December. “The voters had put it in with Measure 91 that the state would (be the one to have taxing authority).”

Since that time Heuer’s petition has had several procedural bumps in the road, including a late-January closure of the case and February reopening by Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge John Collins.

On April 22 the court considered several motions, two by the city asking for dismissal of the case for “insufficiency of process” and asking for clarification of the “operative pleading,” and a motion filed by Heuer seeking leave to amend his original complaint. Judge Cal Tichenor dismissed the case without prejudice.

The court document indicates the court dismissed the case largely to avoid any more procedural confusion with the current filing. Being dismissed “without prejudice” means Heuer is welcome to file it again.

However, action at the state level means he might not have to.

On April 29 the Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91 voted to reject a proposed amendment that would have disallowed local municipalities from adopting ordinances banning medical marijuana dispensaries.

“Tonight, the committee came closer to finishing their work on (the) medical part and voted down the amendment the cities wanted through the (League of Oregon Cities and Association of Oregon Counties) lobby,” Heuer said April 29. “The action … is a major step towards not allowing cities the taxing or regulatory powers over medical marijuana.”

As a result, he said, he does not foresee the need to refile his petition in the near future.


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