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Independence City Council discusses where to spend revenue from marijuana sales tax

Marijuana plant
Posted at 10:32 PM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-17 04:17:39-05

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Independence city leadership discussed at a meeting Thursday night how they might use money brought in by a city marijuana sales tax.

It's the latest example of conversations taking place in dozens of city halls across Missouri.

A possible ballot proposal on the April ballot in Independence would add an additional 3% sales tax on recreational marijuana sales.

The 3% tax is the most cities and counties can levy on recreational marijuana sales on top of the state's 6% percent sales tax.

"As a real development opportunity for Independence, and potentially the start of even more development, this could really have a ripple effect on our community," said Independence City Manager Zach Walker.

At the top of the wish list for any marijuana sales tax money is public safety funding.

Independence Councilman Brice Stewart says the money could contribute to a new police building, but it won't pay for whole project.

The sales tax money likely would be combined with other revenue to build the new police headquarters and jail.

"I do not believe at this point we should actually dedicate the entire sales tax to that," Stewart said. "I'm looking more for dedicating it to public safety and neighborhood services."

According to Independence, as of this month 72 local governments are looking to capture their own share of marijuana taxes.

On the high end, that's over $600,000 a year generated for Independence.

Smaller cities like Smithville estimate $150,000. Like nearly 50 other municipalities, Smithville would put it toward their general fund.

Kansas City, Missouri expects to eventually generate up to $10 million.

Mayor Quinton Lucas hopes to use it for cleaning up illegal dumping, tackling homelessness, and violence prevention.

Steward says discussions like tonight's are critical, since it won't be easy to change how the money is spent in the future.

"In order to be repurposed," Stewart said, "We would have to go back in front of a vote to change the ballot language, so I think we need to get it right the first time."

As with almost all of these possible ordinances, the council will soon vote to put it on a ballot.

After that, the decision will go to the voters on April 4.