Cities, counties debate whether to send marijuana sales tax issue to voters

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:56 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Anybody over 21 will be able to buy recreational marijuana in Missouri next month, and local cities and counties that want their cut of the pot revenue have until next Tuesday to put it up to the voters in April. Many local governments seem to be embracing the extra revenue as many of the cities in St. Louis and St. Charles County have either voted or plan to vote soon to put it on the ballot.

The St. Louis City Board of Aldermen voted to do the same last week. The bill is waiting for Mayor Tishaura Jones’ signature.

“Regardless of where somebody is on marijuana legalization, I think the taxing of it and the producing revenue as long as it’s within limits, I think is something there is broad consensus here in Missouri,” said Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association.

Cardetti applauds cities like Clayton, Florissant, University City, St. Peters and others who voted to put the issue up to the voter.

“We think that’s good for the industry and quite frankly we think it’s good for Missouri and the Missouri economy,” said Cardetti.

Multiple local governments are going to be voting on this sales tax issue Tuesday night. The St. Louis County Council passed an ordinance Tuesday to put the issue up to voters in the general municipal election on April 4. It passed 5-1, with one council member absent.

One county councilmember, Dennis Hancock, said he wants to tap the brakes on the issue.

“Let’s go slow, and we don’t have to do this in April. We can do it anytime this year if we want to put it on the ballot,” said Hancock.

Hancock wants to take a wait-and-see approach.

County Executive Sam Page’s written statements indicate he wants to use the money to lower the county’s budget deficit, something Councilman Mark Harder wants to see if they pass it.

but Hancock said they really have no idea how much money it’ll bring in.

“Let’s take the time and do our homework and get it right,” said Hancock.

Harder also told News 4 that he wants transparency in how the county is spending the money and worries the county may spend more than 3 percent on increased law enforcement and corrections costs.

Cardetti said they believe each dispensary will bring a local government about $150,000 a year and the city of St. Peters’ “best guess” is just short of $1 million annually.

St. Charles county didn’t have estimations but will try to figure out this week whether to earmark the money for public safety or to decide where to put the money at a later date. That’s an approach many cities across the area, including Brentwood and Clayton, are taking.

If the voters approve the tax, the city of St. Peters plans to simply improve city services, saying the money can help curb extra expenses due to inflation.