Kansas City looks to approve ballot question for Marijuana sales tax
KANSAS CITY - The discussion on putting a municipal marijuana sales tax question to voters has finally arrived in Kansas City.
The magic number: 3%. That’s the highest city sales tax allowed under Missouri’s Amendment 3 for recreational marijuana.
Three percent might seem like a small number, but it could eventually add up to $10 million a year in revenue for Kansas City. The high estimate is somewhat based on the fact that there are a lot more dispensaries in Kansas City than there are in other cities pushing the same plan.
Raytown and Liberty are already set to put the question to voters in an April election. Independence, Kansas City and several other cities are also working on approving the same plan.
Kansas City Council members are expected to vote on their proposal during their Thursday meeting.
There’s already a 6% state sales tax set for Missouri recreational marijuana. The 3% city sales tax would lay in the hands of voters, who get to decide yes or no on the question of slightly more expensive recreational marijuana.
“It was a crime in the beginning, so if they can take it and turn it into some good, yeah,” one potential voter, Regina Taylor, said.
“I think it’s fair just because there are some added costs in having that legalized,” Steve Alley said.
“It is offensive. Overall, the government’s going to do it anyway,” Christian Martin said.
Meeting him at the Jackson County Courthouse in downtown Kansas City, the tax question is somewhat personal, Martin said.
“That’s what I’m going to court for is marijuana,” Martin said.
“They got me going to drug classes, and they got me doing them AA meetings, the groups. And I’m like why do you got me doing all that just for marijuana,” Martin said.
“And now they’re about to make weed legit, and I’m like why don’t they just throw my case out the door,” Martin said.
Some marijuana advocacy groups said there continues to be confusion over drug crime enforcement and expungements. They said tax laws will likely become clear before drug court issues are resolved.
Still, local leaders in Kansas City said the tax will have positive impact.
“This 3% allows us to invest in neighborhood quality of life — in trash pick-up, in homelessness prevention and, importantly, violence prevention — three things that we underfund regularly,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
Medical marijuana cardholders would be exempt from paying the additional 3% city sales tax.
But with the tax question, Martin said it hurts that the city could make money off marijuana before his case is dropped.
“It’s irritating. I’m on the phone with my girl and I’m telling her, it’s like irritating. They’ve got me going through all this over marijuana. Just marijuana,” Martin said.
“And it’s legal. It’s legal now,” Martin’s girlfriend said through the phone on speaker.
“Yes, so I feel like she shouldn’t even have me going through all this. She should have just threw it out the courtroom,” Martin said.