The proper allocation of marijuana tax revenue is part of the national issue of cannabis reform.
The call to defund the police is, of course, a financial issue, but it is also about building constructive police alternatives. It is a call to reinvest in communities and explore new and more equitable solutions.
This is precisely what the City Council of Portland, Oregon, tried to convey last Thursday, when it approved an amendment to a proposed budget that would divest approximately $27 million from marijuana tax revenue funds from the city’s police department to programs focusing on restorative justice initiatives.
Back in 2016, Portland passed Recreational Marijuana Sales Measure 26-180, a measure that allocated marijuana tax dollars to substance misuse treatment, public safety, and small business development, a 2019 report from the Portland City Auditor revealed that 46 percent of marijuana tax revenue has gone directly to the Portland Police Bureau.
This misallocation of marijuana tax revenue is paradoxical in that the money is funding the very institution that has disproportionately targeted communities of color — particularly black and brown men — in the enforcement of marijuana laws.