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Oregon bill to divert more marijuana tax revenue toward mental health and addiction treatments

The Oregon government is set to increase the fund for mental health and addiction treatment. A bill introduced in the Oregon Legislative Assembly in April 2017 called for diversion of revenue earned from marijuana taxes to mental health and addiction treatment services. The bill will change the earlier policy of distributing a part of the taxes earned to the Common School Fund. The state tax rate on sales of recreational marijuana is 17 percent, while municipalities may collect an additional 3 percent tax. The collection of taxes since early 2016 has generated roughly $70 million for the state.

Proponents of the marijuana legislation measure in 2014 had argued setting aside a portion of the tax revenue for schools. However, senators of the Oregon State Legislature and sponsor of Senate Bill 845 had informed of relatively low amounts being transferred to school funds. Despite this, there would be a deflection of nearly $20 million every year from schools, as per an assessment by a Legislative Revenue Office. Elaborating on the effect on state school funds, Lori Sattenspiel, interim director of Legislative Services for the Oregon School Boards Association, said, “That’s $20 million away from Oregon kids and their educational futures. That is simply unacceptable.”

Allocation for Common School Fund to go down

However, Senator Jeff Kruse from the Oregon State Legislature stressed the importance of using marijuana taxes on mental health and addiction treatment. Kruse also stressed on the existence of a network between marijuana addiction and drug dependence and the psychological health conditions of the people. Emphasizing on how services at the local level are suffering due to lack of funds, Kruse highlighted the option of mental health and addiction treatment as ideal to spend the money.

At present, the marijuana tax is used for regulating the marijuana industry and the rest is distributed according to a formula drawn by the law. As per the law, 40 percent of the tax revenue is diverted toward the state’s Common School Fund, 20 percent for services to treat mental health problems, alcohol dependence and drug addiction. In addition, 15 percent is redirected to Oregon State Police, 10 percent assigned for law enforcement in the city, 10 percent for the county law enforcement and 5 percent to Oregon Health Authority for alcohol and drug abuse prevention methods, timely medication and treatment options.

The past few years have witnessed a rise in the number of retailers allowed to sell recreational marijuana. The number of licensed retailers has risen from approximately 350 in 2015-17 to an estimated 550 in 2017-19. The Finance and Revenue Committee is still to give the details of the amount to be used for local mental health and addiction treatments. Kruse added, “Drug money going to addiction services makes sense.”

Treating addictive habits

Studies have shown that marijuana use can cause myriad health complications like increased cardiovascular problems, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and alcohol use. The physiological and psychological complexities associated with the rampant use of the cannabis have largely been ignored, thus, resulting in an increasing number of addiction cases. It is necessary to seek treatment for marijuana addiction. The misconception that addiction problems have no solution has forced many people to abstain from any medical help. However, addiction is treatable. If you or a loved one is grappling with an addiction and need help, get in touch with Sovereign Health for necessary help. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-683-9756 or chat online for details about addiction recovery centers in the U.S. or for expert advice about addiction treatment centers in your vicinity.