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Cannabis tax audit: More transparency needed

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new audit released Thursday says the City of Portland needs to be more upfront and honest about the way it’s spending money raised by taxing legal marijuana sales.

When Oregon voters signed off on legalizing recreational marijuana in 2014, Measure 91 included a provision that allowed cities to pass their own tax on the sales. Portland voters did that in 2016.

The new report, released by the city’s own auditor’s office, said Portland is using that money legally, but not being clear about where the funds are going.

According to the audit, voters were led to believe the money would go to drug and alcohol education and treatment, public safety focused on impaired drivers and support for small businesses.

However, looking at 2018’s numbers, more than $2 million was spent on training officers to identify intoxicated drivers. No money was spent on drug and alcohol treatment programs. Another $1.7 million went to the Vision Zero Safety Program and more than $2 million has been used to backfill the general fund.

The audit emphasizes that the city is acting legally, but highlights the need for more transparency.

The audit recommends forming an oversight committee, including legal marijuana tax collection numbers in budget work sessions and compiling annual public reports on how the money is being spent.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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